The Austin Police Department has been under the spotlight lately when it comes to their crime lab and the amount of DNA tests that need to be done. Today, APD stressed that they are committed to clearing their DNA backlog and improving practices.
Right now APD has just under 4,500 cases that need to be cleared. About 3,100 of them are cases where they say DNA evidence was not initially needed. The other 1,300 where evidence is crucial to the case.
The crime lab closed back in June. APD says that choice had to do with a number of factors. One being that the crime lab was found using outdated testing practices that were not recommended by a scientific group who sets testing standards. Also, the review from the Texas Forensics Science Commission found the lab showed signs of contamination, and chemicals being used beyond their recommended manufacturing date. Now, all crime lab scientists are being retrained and the police department plans to use funding approved by city council this week to hire more help.
"They've given us the funding in this year’s budget to hire the additional staff to adequately staff our lab so we can process these cases in a timely manner" Austin Police Department's Chief of Staff Brian Manley said.
APD is hoping to have the crime lab reopened by February of next year.
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