As many as 200 potential sexual assault cases have gone without prosecution because Los Angeles police officials failed to meet legal deadlines to test DNA evidence that might have identified a suspect, says a city audit reported by the Los Angeles Times. Chief William Bratton has up a task force to examine the Scientific Investigations Division, which oversees the department’s fingerprint analysis unit and DNA lab. He said he had asked the FBI and Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to join the task force probe.
City Controller Laura Chick said the police department has a backlog of 7,000 sexual assault test kits that have not been examined. Of those cases, 217 are beyond the 10-year statute in which to prosecute the crimes. Said Chick: “It is beyond disturbing that the thousands of victims who have undergone the invasive ordeal of [submitting to] these tests do not even know that their evidence is still untested.” Unlike the Hollywood portrayal of high-tech crime fighting on police shows such as “Law & Order” and “CSI,” Chick said the LAPD’s ability to analyze evidence seemed “stuck in an era of Wyatt Earp.” Bratton said his department needed more staff and at least $7 million to address the backlog.