Evidence with the potential to solve or provide leads on hundreds of burglary and robbery cases awaits DNA testing as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police grapple with a backlog, reports the Charlotte Observer. Testing is still a top priority for murder, rape and habitual offender cases. And police do have a plan to clear the backlog, but it may take until late next year. Charlotte police blame a staffing shortage for the problem. Crime scene evidence in 138 robbery and 443 burglary investigations was awaiting DNA analysis as of Oct. 10, the latest police data available.
Last year, DNA testing led investigators to suspects or new leads in 58 percent of burglary cases and in 18 percent of the robberies that had biological evidence. In late 2006, two of the four DNA analysts left for personal reasons and the department began an immediate search. But a shortage of analysts around the country slowed the hiring. At a minimum, it takes three to four months to train a new DNA analyst, but the process can stretch up to a year, depending on experience. Around the time the analysts left, residential burglaries increased and robberies occurred in traditionally low-crime neighborhoods.