LA Back Tracks on Getting Rape Kits Tested

Remember that Human Rights Watch report on the horrifying back log of unprocessed rape kits in LA County? Remember how it motivated the LA police department to take responsibility and increase personnel to get justice served, at long last? We posted on it a lot. Well, all that’s kaput:

The announcement today by city leaders that new crime lab positions approved in this year’s budget will not be funded makes it impossible for the Los Angeles Police Department to eliminate its backlog of untested DNA in rape cases, Human Rights Watch said today.
The 26 new crime lab positions were approved by City Council in May 2009, despite a near hiring freeze, at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The police maintained that the positions were necessary to address a backlog of 7,000 untested sets of physical evidence in rape cases, known as rape kits, and to develop a long-term solution for efficient and effective rape kit testing. For the first time since the positions were approved, the city acknowledged today that the positions have not been funded and will not be filled.

So incredibly disappointing. We’ll be in touch with deets on what to do if you’re as pissed as we are.

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  • onemorefeminist

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Council President Eric Garcetti propose a motion to move some funding from the unfilled position to outsource evidence testing (to make up for lost time and clear the backlog).
    I believe this motion passed on Wednesday in City Council and is waiting for the Mayor to do what ever he needs to do to make it so.

  • viveconamor

    “The LAPD has made substantial progress in using outside labs to test the majority of backlogged rape kits, but outsourcing alone will not solve the problem. By federal law, public crime lab personnel must review the test results of privately outsourced kits before the test results can be entered into the public DNA database. Outsourced rape kits wait an average of 72 days after testing before they are reviewed by crime lab personnel.”
    From the article linked “all that’s kaput”. Definitely does not sound like a fair trade-off. The worst part is that I cannot help but wonder how much money is being used to keep non-violent offenders in prison…

  • onemorefeminist

    Yeah, its definitely not a fair trade off… But it does take time to train the new people (according to my link: 3 to 6 months) and so that would still have a loss of time… where untested kits might go past the statute. Either way it sounds like the kits will have to be tested twice to be entered in the public DNA database.
    And also in Garcetti’s motion the LAPD must resubmit the request for new hires to the managing hiring process immediately- meaning, I think, that he is calling for HRW request of hiring forensic scientists. But what I’m confused about is if the city council provided the money the first time, how could city not fill the positions? *Who* or *what* didn’t implement these new hires? And if city budget/motions/etc didn’t make it happen the first time, how can city council/mayor do things differently to make sure it happens this time? And who can we, the residents of LA, appeal to- to make this happen if not our local government?