The Austin Police Department is seeing a faster turnaround for results of DNA evidence.
“We have taken a lot of steps to clear up the backlog as well as build capacity to address cases,” said Austin Police Department Interim Chief Brian Manley.
Previously the DNA lab faced a backlog of about 4,000 sexual assault kits. Manley said that backlog is now down to 1,000 untested kits and new cases are being processed within just 60 days.
“We're submitting cases on a scheduled timeline and that's why we plan on clearing up the entire backlog by the summer of 2018,” Manley said.
Some victims have waited years to get results from DNA evidence submitted with their sexual assault kits.
Victim advocates worried that could keep survivors from going through with the reporting process.
“We know that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes and it is of the utmost importance that someone that survives such a vicious attack on their person comes forward and reports it,” said Manley.
That's why Manley made processing the backlog a priority.
“I'm hopeful that as they see we've now been able to overcome that, and that we have the capacity built back up and that we are in fact testing the sexual assault kits as they come in, that we will get the cooperation and the willingness of survivors to come forward and to seek prosecution for their offenders,” Manley said.
APD prioritizes DNA testing for violent crimes so they can get dangerous criminals off the street. That's why they were able to process DNA evidence in a serial robbery case in just one week.
The lab also has a schedule to get through previously untested kits.
“I'm confident that we have a system in place that is operating effectively. I'm confident in the work that the men and women in our lab are doing. They are professionals. And I'm also confident that the additional contracts that we put in place with the ability to outsource these kits will allow us to keep up with the demand and will allow us to provide survivors with the immediate response that they deserve,” said Manley.