Top Los Angeles officials have unveiled a plan to help the police department’s crime lab reduce its massive backlog of unexamined DNA evidence from violent crimes, reports the Los Angeles Times. They acknowledged that the funding for the proposal was less than certain. Under the plan, which the City Council is expected to vote on today, police would allocate $700,000 to hire 16 more DNA analysts and support staff — a boost of about 33 percent over current staffing. The city would also increase by $250,000 the funds earmarked to pay private laboratories hired to help with the daunting workload.
The proposal does not guarantee that the LAPD will have the funds it needs to process the entire backlog of roughly 7,000 cases. Even if approved, the plan would still fall about $900,000 short of what is needed to keep pace with new crimes and meet the police goal of clearing about 2,500 of the older cases this year. The mayor and Police Chief William Bratton have come under increasing criticism over the backlog. In August, The Times reported that bookkeeping mistakes had resulted in the LAPD losing nearly $500,000 in federal grant money earmarked for DNA analysis. Last week, City Controller Laura Chick issued a report saying that 200 potential sex crime cases have not been prosecuted because police failed to meet legal deadlines to test DNA evidence.