In October of 2008, City Controller Laura Chick released an audit of the Los Angeles police department’s rape-kit testing program. The report found that the LAPD currently had a backlog of over 7,000 rape kits, meaning they sit in refrigerated storage awaiting DNA analysis that could potentially help convict the rapist.
But now we read on NBCLosAngeles.com that the LAPD has announced the numbers in the audit were wrong. The number of untested kits is only 4,423. And they could have the backlog cleared by the summer.
Is this supposed to be good news?
The LAPD also found that 118 of the untested rape kits had been sitting in storage for over a decade- thereby exceeding the 10-year statute of limitations on a sexual assault case.
The new numbers were the result of the 2,000 hours 50 LAPD detectives spent doing their own review of the backlog of evidence in their freezers. Two thousand paid hours. From a department whose response to Chick’s audit was to whine that they didn’t have the money, despite nearly $4 million in grants made since 2004 to address the problem of backlogs. At the time Chick responded, “I’m not interested in hearing, ‘there isn’t enough money.’ There is enough money. Up until now, this just hasn’t been a priority for the mayor, the police chief, the police department or the City Council. But it is certainly a priority for the public.”
Authorities seem to have listened. From NBC Los Angeles:
Following the release of Chick’s audit, the Los Angeles City Council allocated $700,000 to hire 16 scientists and staff to analyze rape kit evidence and another $250,000 to have the kits tested by an outside firm.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he is committed to eliminating the backlog at a cost of $5 million.