LA County Sheriff's Department Lacks Funding to Analyze Rape Kits

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department stopped sending out old rape kits for DNA analysis because of what the sheriff said was a lack of funding, it was reported today.

At the end of May, the kits stopped being sent to private labs once funding for whittling down the decades old backlog ran out, the Los Angeles Times reported based on what Sheriff Lee Baca wrote in a report to the Board of Supervisors.

The county could get a federal grant to help pay for more testing next month, but no set source of funding has been identified to complete the job, The Times reported.

Marshall University in West Virginia has agreed to do some testing for free, a spokesman for the sheriff told the newspaper.

The sheriff's budget is about $2 billion annually. Last month, Baca told the Board of Supervisors he needed about $4.5 million to send out more kits to private labs and about the same amount to hire 30 people in the sheriff's crime lab. With that money, Cmdr. Earl Shields, the head of technical services, said the backlog could be clear in 18 months, The Times reported.

After a backlog of about 4,600 kits was made public last year, the sheriff's department sent evidence from 676 cases away for testing. A suspected rapist was identified in one, The Times reported.

The Los Angeles Police Department has a similar backlog that is being reduced, with about 115 kits being sent out per week, Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said.

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