CSI Los Angeles: Innocents Jailed, Criminals Walk Free

City Hall fails to provide LAPD funds needed for rape kits, DNA tests and competent fingerprint analysis

Another City Controller audit is coming out today that  will show how criminals are running free because City Hall refuses to come up with the relatively small sums needs to fund competent police investigations and a modern crime lab.

The target this time is the inadequate funding for DNA analysis of rape kits -- a long-standing problem that has allowed sexual assault cases to go unsolved and the perpetrators to remain at large.

It's not an isolated problem. Only Councilman Jack Weiss has made an issue of the rape kits and funding of DNA testing in a broad range of crimes but he is so ineffective nobody listens to him even when he postures for the cameras.

The scandal involving botched fingerprint analysis revealed last week in the Los Angeles Times is part of the same problem. When Weiss who wants to be the "people's lawyer" as City Attorney is your only advocate and he joins with everyone else at City Hall to squander the treasury on sweetheart contracts and subsidies to billionaires, you can be sure nothing good is going to come of it.

As long as two years ago, LAPD had 9,000 untested rape kits in storage and the situation hasn't gotten a whole lot better with limited funds available to farm out the DNA testing to other crime labs. That's left detectives deciding with little real evidence whether they think it's a case of rape or consensual sex.

For all the talk about taxing the public to add cops, you would think city officials could figure out how to come up with the few million bucks needed to fund the cops doing their job well and efficiently.

Why should it take a critical audit to get action or a leaked report to bring to light the incompetence in the fingerprint unit that misidentified innocent people as criminals?

The Police Commission and Weiss for that matter were outraged last week over the fingerprint scandal but that's nothing but  butt-covering. What's needed isn't hearings by the people who failed in their duty but an independent prosecutor who determine once and for all exactly what officials knew and what they did or didn't do about it.

To emphasize her repugnance at the city's performance on this issue, Controller Laura Chick will release her audit at 11:00 a.m. in front of the City Hall First Street steps and will be joined by Sarah Tofte, a researcher at Human Rights Watch and Kathy Spillar, Executive Vice President of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

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