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Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Editorial: Fight against crime gets boost

Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 5:19 PM

The never ending fight against crime in Louisiana got a boost recently when Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson announced that the State Police Crime Lab has eliminated all case backlogs throughout its sections, including narcotics, latent prints, toxicology and firearms.

All disciplines of the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab are now providing real-time forensic support to law enforcement partners in communities across the state, allowing experts to focus on solving crimes as they happen. The turnaround time on cases has been reduced from a high of 1,000 days to less than 15 days today. This includes evidence intake, analysis, quality control review and report writing.

Jindal said that the backlog elimination is because of aggressive efforts by the Louisiana State Police and increased state funding for equipment and technology, as well as the Crime Lab expansion supported by the state in 2009.

“Having a crime lab that operates in real time will also help us assist local law enforcement faster and focus on advanced training for law enforcement personnel so we can continue fighting crime in our communities. The work completed by our law enforcement personnel directly contributes to a safer Louisiana – and we are forever grateful for their service to protect our people,” he said.

Since 2008, the Crime Lab has eliminated a backlog of more than 9,300 cases. These include more than 2,860 narcotics cases, 1,000 latent print cases, more than 800 firearms cases and more than 3,700 toxicology cases. Officials with Louisiana State Police report there is no other crime lab in the U.S. with processing capacity like that of the LSP Crime Lab.

Baton Rouge Police Department Police Chief Carl Dabadie said, “The partnership forged between the Baton Rouge Police Department and the State Police Crime Lab is most evident within the East Baton Rouge Violent Crimes Unit. Our detectives are seeing unprecedented turnaround times on the analysis of critical pieces of evidence. This ensures that our detectives have the information needed to move investigations forward and bring to justice the perpetrators of crime in the City of Baton Rouge. This partnership is a win for our respective agencies but most importantly it is a win for our citizens.”

Before the backlog was reduced, the Crime Lab was unable to process all of its own cases and had to outsource evidence to other labs. Now, all of the evidence can be analyzed in-house. The backlog also reduced LSP’s ability to provide advanced training to examiners or instruction to other agencies. These issues were quickly identified as a priority by Jindal and the Louisiana State Police, and resources to reduce the backlog were set in place through the DNA Forensic Section’s efficiency project, additional state support and several other measures tackled by law enforcement officers and forensic experts throughout the Crime Lab’s sections.

The State Police Crime Lab works to assist local law enforcement in investigations across the state.

The crime lab also helps the New Orleans Police Department process 480 cases a year across its various sections. The State Police Crime Lab began assisting the NOPD in 2010 with DNA analysis of violent crime, specifically for homicides and sexual assaults.

Making Louisiana safer place to live by giving law enforcement better tools to fight crime is a plus for everyone, except the criminals.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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