RILEY — The Riley County Police Department can now send evidence to a Johnson County laboratory for processing.

The Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board approved a memorandum of understanding between RCPD and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory during its meeting at Riley City Hall on Monday.

Tim Hegerty, captain of RCPD’s investigation division, said RCPD usually sends evidence for laboratory testing to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, but a position is vacant within the KBI that would test a specific piece of evidence for an ongoing investigation. Hegerty didn’t identify the evidence because the case is active.

RCPD searched for a different laboratory to test the evidence. Hegerty said the evidence is time sensitive and RCPD cannot wait for the KBI to fill its position.

The Johnson County laboratory can test the evidence, but it required the agreement. Hegerty said the RCPD read the agreement and asked for some changes, but the laboratory said the agreement is its standard MOU, and changing it isn’t open to negotiation.

“The bottom line, for this item to be examined for court purposes, Johnson County is the (lab) we have to use,” Hegerty said.

Mike Gillespie, RCPD legal adviser, said he was initially worried about some terminology in the agreement, but he said the benefit of signing the agreement “grossly” outweighs the risk.

“The risk is very, very low,” he said. “I would be comfortable with the inclusion of (the terminology).”

Barry Wilkerson, Riley County attorney, said an agreement was not needed the last time Riley County used the Johnson County crime lab, which was about four years ago. The lab now has a different director, who may require the agreement, he said.

Hegerty said there may be occasions in the future the RCPD may need to use the Johnson County lab and the MOU would cover those instances. He also noted it is not an exclusive services contract, and the RCPD will continue to use KBI lab testing when available.

Usha Reddi, board member, asked for an update on the agreement in six months to see how often RCPD uses the lab and any costs associated with it.

Dylan Lysen is the education reporter for the Manhattan Mercury. Follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen and on Facebook @DylanLysenNews.