LAPD clears backlog of more than 6,000 rape kits

By C.J. Lin


Two years after a public outcry prompted changes in how rape kits are processed, the LAPD has cleared a backlog of more than 6,100 of the tests, officials said Tuesday.


The Los Angeles Police Department has completed DNA and other tests on all of the 6,132 rape kits - some of them years old - that were reported in 2008 to have been sitting untouched in lab freezers, Capt. Kevin McClure told the Police Commission.


A secondary backlog of rape kits generated since that time stands at about 275 - after hitting 2,500 at one point, LAPD officials said.


In addition, 500 kits from the first backlog and 400 from the second, which were tested by outside labs, are still awaiting review by the LAPD before the information can be uploaded into databases.


Information provided in the kits from the original backlog has resulted in 521 matches in a national database of known offenders. There also have been 41 "case-to-case hits," some of which found serial offenders or an unknown suspect who has committed other crimes.


The LAPD arrested about 300 people last year based on these hits, McClure said.


Since a 2008 audit uncovered the backlog, police officials have scrambled to process the kits. They used money from federal and private grants and donations to send the kidt to private labs and hire criminalists and lab technicians despite a citywide hiring freeze.


Between July 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010, when the backlog was eliminated, funds spent to outsource testing to analyze semen, hair, blood or other biological evidence collected from crime scenes or victims' bodies has totaled more than $7 million, according to a department report. An additional $3.5 million is expected to complete the kits awaiting review.


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