12.10.09

Rep. Schiff Secures Federal Funds to Assist Local Law Enforcement Efforts and Bolster Regional DNA Forensic Technology

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Thursday, December 10, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Rep. Schiff Secures Federal Funds to Assist Local Law Enforcement Efforts and Bolster Regional DNA Forensic Technology

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3288), a bill that sets funding levels for a major portion of the federal budget for fiscal year 2010. Rep. Schiff, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, helped secure important federal funding in the bill for several local law enforcement initiatives to help improve local DNA testing capabilities, reduce the backlog of untested DNA rape kits in the Los Angeles area and upgrade communications systems for local law enforcement.  The bill is expected to pass the Senate and then will be sent to the President to be signed into law.

“DNA matching technology is one of the greatest advancements in forensic science since the fingerprint,” said Schiff.  “The funding in this bill will help take violent felons off the street by speeding up DNA analysis through the establishment of a new lab in Glendale and by expanding training programs for DNA analysts in our region.”

The bill includes $500,000 for DNA equipment for the Regional Crime Lab being established in Glendale. Although the regional DNA Laboratory will be located in Glendale, it will work in partnership with Burbank, Pasadena and surrounding cities and be capable of accepting evidence from throughout our region.  Currently, these cities send their DNA to be tested by the County Crime Lab, which sometimes takes as long as nine months to process.  This new lab will process crime scene and cold case evidence at a lower cost than a private lab.

The County of Los Angeles Sheriff's Department will receive $1,000,000 for its Rape Kit Backlog Reduction Program. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has more than 4,700 unanalyzed sexual assault kits in evidence storage. Los Angeles County is implementing a new policy to test all rape kits and is aggressively working through the backlog of kits to complete this goal. These funds will be used to help reduce the backlog and ensure all kits are analyzed and uploaded into the FBI’s national DNA database. 

“This funding will help clear the backlog of DNA samples and stop predators before they strike again,” said Schiff. “These funds will go a long way toward finally solving hundreds, possibly thousands of cold sexual assaults cases – ultimately making our neighborhoods safer.”

There is also $500,000 included in the measure for the Rape Kit Backlog Elimination Program run by the Los Angeles Police Department. Over the last 12 years, the Los Angeles Police Department has collected approximately 14,000 sexual assault evidence kits. These kits have not all been examined and are being maintained in LAPD evidence storage freezers.  However, detectives only requested testing in about one-half of the cases in which a kit was collected.  The LAPD has now adopted a policy of testing every sexual assault kit, and have tested more than half of the backlog kits.  These funds will be used to ensure that each and every rape kit at the LAPD is processed. 

The Interagency Communications Interoperability System (ICIS) run by the Cities of Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena will receive $500,000.  ICIS increases public safety by enabling local law enforcement, governments and first responders to better communicate with each other during an emergency using one comprehensive integrated communication system. This funding will be used to purchase additional microwave paths for network enhancement for the only regional interoperable radio system in the LA area. This will make the network less vulnerable to failure and provide additional capacity for expansion.

The bill also includes $250,000 for the City of Monterey Park for Police Communications Upgrades.  The City's current radios have been in use for about 10 years and are nearing the end of their useful lifecycle. If the police department’s current radios are not replaced by 2010, radios that become defective may not be repairable and could leave officers without proper means of communication.  These radio upgrades will allow police to better protect the city in case of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency.

 “In the event of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, it is imperative that law enforcement and first responders have the ability to communicate with each other to coordinate an efficient and effective response,” said Schiff.  “These communication systems can help save lives by enabling the brave men and women protecting our communities to do their jobs better.”