04.23.09

Schiff Amendment to Bolster Law Enforcement's Investigative Capabilities Passes House

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Thursday, April 23, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Schiff Amendment to Bolster Law Enforcement’s  Investigative Capabilities Passes House

Measure enables hiring of forensic analysts to
help catch rapists, murderers, and violent felons

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House passed an amendment authored by Rep. Adam Schiff, which will increase the number of forensic analysts and laboratory personnel working to catch rapists, murderers and other violent felons.  The amendment was included as part of the COPS Improvements Act of 2009 (H.R. 1139), a bill that will reauthorize the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which provides grants to states and localities to hire law enforcement officers.  Rep. Schiff’s amendment will expand the scope of the COPS program to cover forensic analysts and laboratory personnel who serve in crime labs and who are in high demand nationwide.

“There are far too many stories of people being victimized by predators who should have been behind bars long ago,” said Schiff.  “Forensic analysis is a proven tool that can catch rapists and murderers before they can strike again. This amendment will give law enforcement the resources they need to catch violent felons and make our communities safer.”

Rep. Schiff’s amendment provides an exemption to the requirement that COPS funding be used to hire sworn officers and gives states and localities the leeway to fund forensic lab personnel with COPS funding. 

Understaffing and a lack of resources in labs are causing major delays in processing evidence, and sometimes evidence is not being processed at all.  The most recent census of our nation’s public crime labs by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2005 found 359,000 backlogged pending requests older than 30 days. 

Los Angeles County alone has a backlog of approximately 4,700 unprocessed rape kits.  In some cases forensic evidence collected from sexual assault cases, often including DNA, has sat on shelves for years.  In 311 cases that Los Angeles County has identified in an audit, sexual assault kits are at least 10 years old, exceeding the statue of limitations so that no charges can be filed even if a DNA test yielded a solid match.