City of LA pledges funds to clear backlog of untested rape kits

The Daily Breeze reports:

Pressured by the city auditor and women’s groups, Los Angeles city officials pledged Tuesday to spend $2.5 million a year to clear up a backlog of more than 7,000 rape cases by hiring more technicians and outsourcing some work to private labs.

“All victims of rape deserve justice. All rapists deserve prison,” Police Chief William Bratton said at a City Hall news conference with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council members to announce the plan.

Villaraigosa, who has made public safety one of his top priorities, said he found extra money to hire the technicians, or criminalists, for the Los Angeles Police Department crime lab by working with unions to save money on health costs.

The City Council today is scheduled to consider the first part of the funding, a nearly $1 million program that will hire 10 technicians and six support staff and authorize $250,000 to pay for work by private labs.

Under the full program, 16 scientists and technicians will be hired every six months – as quickly as they can be trained – for the next 2-1/2 years.

The first work will be done on the oldest DNA rape kits to try to avoid any problems with the statute of limitations.

City Controller Laura Chick, in a scathing audit last week, said more than 200 cases had to be abandoned because of failure to process kits in a timely fashion. She has said she wants to see a three-year program to clear up the backlog.

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