Friday, January 22, 2010

We need results on DNA evidence kits!

UPDATE: The motion passed the Public Safety Committee on Monday morning. Thank you to the advocates who came to the hearing to support the motion.

I've been a strong advocate of eliminating the backlog of LAPD's evidence kits that could hold the answer for solving rape and other violent crimes. At the end of 2008, the police department had close to 7,500 kits in storage waiting to be tested. Now we're down to a little over 1,200.

Reducing the backlog wasn't easy -- it's been tough times for the city's budget. But the Mayor and City Council made this a priority and set aside funds in our budget to hire more DNA analysts and contract with private labs address the backlog more quickly. I was extremely disappointed to learn that even though funding was specifically earmarked, a hiring-related committee of city staffers denied the LAPD's request to hire these positions.

Now we are two months behind schedule in hiring, and the funding could get diverted for other uses if we don't spend it soon!

I've proposed a plan to take a portion of the hiring funds and use them to extend our contracts with private labs. They've already completed the work we paid them to do this year, and they can continue to plug away if we keep them on board. My plan also calls for the immediate hiring of the maximum number of DNA analysts that LAPD can train at one time.

On Monday, my motion goes before the Public Safety Committee at 9:30 a.m. (Room 1010 at City Hall) and the Budget and Finance Committee at 6:00 p.m. (Van Nuys City Hall). If you agree with me that victims of rape and other violent crimes shouldn't have to wait longer for their evidence kits to be tested, I hope you'll come speak up at one of these meetings.