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City News Service

Los Angeles, CA

The Los Angeles Police Department has cut its DNA testing backlog by more than half, and hopes to eliminate the backlog completely by July 2011, Deputy Chief Charles Beck told the Police Commission today.

A year ago, 7,500 so-called rape kits were sitting untested in storage freezers. The backlog has been reduced to 3,266 kits which criminalists hope to finish analyzing by July 2011, Beck said.
Beck, the commanding officer of the Detective Bureau, added that DNA evidence helped solve 180 cases last year. This year, 405 cases have been closed.

Beck said the department has worked hard to ensure that the backlog in DNA testing will not result in the statute of limitations expiring on a particular case.

"We've stopped the bleeding with the passing statutes," Beck said.

Beck added the pace of the DNA testing speeded up significantly when the department was allowed to hire an additional 10 criminalists and technicians in 2008, plus 16 more this year.

However, furloughs prompted by the city's record budget deficit slashed the number of criminalists working on the DNA backlog by about 10 percent.

Beck said outsourcing also helped reduce the DNA testing backlog, but he did not specify which private companies were hired, and at what cost.

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