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LA Weekly Delves Into LAPD’s Rape Kit Debacle

Christine Pelisek has an excellent story in the current issue of the LA Weekly about the story behind the thousands of untested rape-kits sitting in LAPD freezers. The backlog of untested DNA received public attention last fall after City Controller Laura Chick released a scathing report. Pelisek reveals that the Sheriff’s Department has a similar problem with untested rape kits, uncovers how the system failed so miserably, and why they may never catch up:

It’s now extremely unlikely that either LAPD or the Sheriff’s Department will resolve their DNA-backlog crisis any time soon, because their labs are overwhelmed by a never-ending stream of cases, staffed so poorly that small law-enforcement agencies using the sheriff’s lab in L.A. County opt to hire their own technicians – and even go to neighboring counties.

Sheriff’s spokesman [Earl] Shields admits [Lee] Baca’s department cannot afford to test the rape kits on its shelves, and doesn’t know if it ever will. And LAPD’s new crime-lab space – a gleaming building near Cal State L.A. – is already far too small to handle the load it now faces.

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Though the issue’s feature story is about rape, the paper made the baffling choice to feature a photo of a scantily-clad model on the cover, with the headline, “Cuter, Tighter.” To be fair, the cover is promoting an an article about LA Fashion Week- but why? Fashion Week is an event so painfully irrelevant to most women’s lives that even compulsive shoppers and label whores like ourselves couldn’t care less. Now the story about rape- that we read twice.

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