A week after a city controller’s audit showed a backlog of 7,038 “rape kits” awaiting testing, the mayor and police chief of Los Angeles announced plans to increase staffing and funding to analyze the stored evidence.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, under the plan the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) would provide $700,000 to hire 10 more DNA analysts and six support staff–a third more than the current staff level–and the city would add $250,000 to pay private laboratories to help the LAPD catch up. However, even if the City Council approves the proposal, it would still fall about $900,000 short of what the LAPD needs this year to clear 2,500 cases and millions more will be needed in subsequent years–money that the city hopes will come from private and federal funds.
DNA evidence that’s contained in the kits can often make the difference between convicting a rapist or setting the perpetrator free. As L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put it at the press conference yesterday announcing the plan, “When crimes are committed, particularly the heinous crimes of rape, we have a solemn obligation to seek justice.”