Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has appointed a 17-member panel of experts and legislative leaders to develop a plan to reduce the backlogs of evidence waiting to be tested at the state crime lab. He called on police, prosecutors and judges to prioritize evidence that is sent to the lab, reports the Hartford Courant. He said universities in the state can help develop training programs and produce interns and graduates that can step into the forensic field to bolster the chronically understaffed lab.
The Courant reported Wednesday that audits in July by two investigative teams working for a unit of the U.S. Justice Department raised new questions about the operations of a crime lab that has been overwhelmed by a 25 percent overall workload increase since 2005. That includes a 400 percent rise in requests from police and prosecutors for DNA tests in criminal cases. State police have said there is a backlog of about 3,900 forensic cases involving all types of crime scene evidence, and a backlog of about 1,800 cases awaiting ballistic and firearms testing. The audit cited weaknesses in supervision, reporting of case results, evidence control, data security, quality assurance, adherence to standard operating procedures for DNA analyses, and validation techniques for DNA test results, among other issues.