With federal grant money, Scottsdale Police Department can examine DNA evidence backlog
Oct 17, 2023, 4:35 AM
(Getty Images Photo/Scott Gries)
PHOENIX — The Scottsdale Police Department will have some extra cash to tackle their DNA evidence backlog, thanks to a $250,000 federal grant.
The money, coming from the U.S. Department of Justice, is an ongoing grant the department’s forensics lab has had in the past. The Scottsdale City Council officially consented to it last week.
Officer Aaron Bolin with Scottsdale Police said the funding will go towards an issue they’ve been struggling with.
“There are staffing shortages everywhere, and in forensic science, there’s apparently no exception to that,” he said. “Having not had all the forensic examiners in place that we’ve needed to has contributed to a little bit of a backlog.”
Backlogged cases are those that haven’t been looked at for 30 days or more.
“When the triaging happens where a new case comes in that our investigators are actively working, sometimes their other cases where we have a known suspect and we’re basically putting evidence together for court get pushed back,” he added.
How many backlogged DNA cases does Scottsdale have?
According to Bolin, that backlog includes more than 70 items for persons crime, nearly 40 items from property crimes, and nearly 130 sexual assault kits. He added many of these items are currently in progress.
However, the grant money will make it easier for the department to get through these cases.
“We’ll be able to actually hire another forensic scientist that will serve as an analyst,” Bolin explained. “It’s also going to help a grant position, forensic scientist and analyst, that was hired a year ago to help get through these cases.”
The money will help the department in other ways as well.
“[We’ll be able to] continue to pay for the annual maintenance for the equipment and software,” Bolin said, “as well as purchase new equipment and supplies that are required for the continuing education of the forensic scientists in the DNA unit.”
Bolin added that being able to stay on top of DNA evidence is essential to the department’s mission.
“We are working through this backlog,” he stressed. “The grant… will greatly help our efforts to make sure we can put good cases to court and ensure justice for our victims.”