DNA cases may strain LAPD's resources

Patrick McGreevy, Times Staff Writer

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved 

The Los Angeles Police Department lacks the resources to handle a wave of cold-case investigations expected to result from evidence gathered through a new state program that collects DNA from convicted criminals, officials said Monday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Lisa Kahn told a Los Angeles City Council panel that the LAPD could expect an average of one "hit" each day from a database of DNA being built under Proposition 69, which was approved by voters in 2004.

The initiative requires that DNA samples be collected from every person convicted of a felony, including rape and murder, in the state. "The question here is how are we going to prepare for this avalanche?" said Councilman Jack Weiss, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee.

The panel asked budget experts to report in two weeks on the finances needed to hire the necessary detectives and criminalists.

LAPD Cmdr. Harlan Ward said the department would probably seek to double the staffing of its cold-case homicide unit. He predicted that staffing in the unit would eventually have to be tripled. "We have six people in our cold-case homicide unit, definitely not enough," Ward said.

The LAPD has 27 criminalists, but adding employees may not be possible until a larger crime lab opens next year, officials said. 
February 28, 2006

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