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City plan to address DNA rape-kit backlog

October 28, 2008 6:34:43 AM PDT
L.A. city leaders announced a new plan Tuesday to clear the backlog of DNA rape kits sitting in crime lab freezers. This after the LAPD came under harsh criticism for letting thousands of the kits go unprocessed.City leaders are still talking about the proposed solution, but preliminarily, they say that this plan beefs up L.A. County Crime Laboratory staffing. It also outsources the backlog of rape kits to private labs. And city leaders say they have finally agreed on how to test rape kits in real time for the benefit of victims.

Tuesday's move is expected to put a dent into the backlog of 7,000 untested rape kits. Those rape kits are stored in freezers downtown, and more than 200 of them are in danger of reaching the statute of limitations for testing, which means they would not longer be admissible in court.

Tuesday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, council leaders and LAPD Police Chief Bill Bratton have reached an agreement on how to speed up the testing of those kits. The plan is to hire 16 new scientists at the LAPD Crime Lab. That number includes 10 criminalists and six new associate positions, and to do that every six months until the crime lab is fully staffed. The second part of the plan will be to pump $2.5 million a year for the next two and a half years to help outsource the testing of rape kits.

"Today we're here to send a message, to thousands of rapists who think they got away. Well, you didn't," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"The reformed commitment is to test every rape kit in real time and to test every kit in the LAPD's back log," said L.A. City Council member Jack Weiss.

Now Wednesday the City Council will vote on the first phase of the plan. They also say that the backlog should be wiped out in three years if this plan is approved.


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