DNA testing getting faster
An extra hand from Baton Rouge Police Department is helping the Louisiana State Police crime lab process DNA evidence fast.
"The information that we gather here, as soon as something is discovered, there's a break in the case, there's information that we pull off from these analyses, we immediately contact those agencies and open that line of communication and share that information," said Sgt. Markus Smith with the Louisiana State Police.
The line of communication works even smoother between the lab and BRPD, thanks to a pair of dedicated scientists working the city's cases alone.
"Without question, having our people assigned to the crime lab allows us to set our own priorities and not have to rely on the state to do that," said Sgt. Don Kelly with the Baton Rouge Police Department.
That's one tool that's helped the crime lab drop a backlog of thousands to hundreds in just a little more than a year. As of today, the backlog of unassigned priority one, or violent crimes, cases is just five-- two rapes and three homicides. All of those cases arrived at the lab within a week and are just days away from being assigned.
"The thing with this evidence DNA is there's an ongoing process. There are a lot of steps and stages going on, but all the cases that we currently have are being worked right now. There's nothing sitting on the shelf. Everything is being looked at, as far as our priority one cases," said Smith.
State Police said the current backlog of cases that are actively being worked is just fewer than 370, a far cry from the thousands backlogged just two years ago. They said the increase in efficiency is partly due to the lab getting a $600,000 dollar grant from the federal government.