LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Police Department received $250,000 Tuesday from City Councilman Jack Weiss' office to pay to have DNA evidence from rape kits analyzed by an outside firm.
The funds are in addition to $250,000 approved last month by the Los Angeles City Council to outsource the testing of DNA evidence. At that time, the council also agreed to spend $700,000 to hire 16 scientists and staff to analyze evidence from rape kits.
"Fighting violent crime must be top priority, and DNA lets us target some of the most dangerous repeat offenders lurking in our neighborhoods," Weiss said. "With this $250,000, LAPD can test 250 more rape kits, solve these crimes and prevent more rapes."
The LAPD has a backlog of 6,862 rape kits. Another 176 unanalyzed kits are part of cases being pursued by detectives.
It costs about $1,000 per kit for an outside firm to analyze the physical evidence in a rape case.
There are 32 criminalists in the LAPD crime lab. In addition to the 16 who will be in place by January, the city plans to hire 10 scientists every six months, beginning next July, until the lab reaches capacity at 74 criminalists.
The price of fully staffing the lab is $2.5 million a year.
"(Weiss) has been a champion for increasing our staffing and ability to contract with outside agencies to eliminate our DNA testing and analysis backlogs," said LAPD Chief William Bratton.
"Councilmember Weiss' $250,000 donation is a start toward that effort, but we still have a lot of progress that needs to be made," he said. "Currently to add to Council member Weiss' donation, we are actively seeking donations from private sources."
The Los Angeles Police Foundation is accepting donations, which can be mailed to 515 S. Flower St., Suite 1680, Los Angeles, CA 90071, or on the foundation's Web site at www.ladnahelp.org.