Gov. Jindal announces that crime lab eliminates backlog, experts now working in real time
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana State Police (LSP) Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson announced that the LSP 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.
Governor Jindal said that the backlog elimination is due to 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.
Governor Jindal said, "This backlog elimination is proof that our work to more aggressively pursue criminals is working. When I first came into office, we increased funding for the Crime Lab to process evidence faster and put more criminals behind bars. Today, our law enforcement men and women have answered the call and worked feverishly to eliminate these outstanding cases, freeing up officers and experts who stand ready to help us bring more criminals to justice.
"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."
Since 2008, the Crime Lab has eliminated a backlog of over 9,300 cases. These include more than 2,860 narcotics cases, 1,000 latent print cases, over 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.
Colonel Mike Edmonson said, "The efficiency of the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab is unprecedented in the forensic science field. I know of no other crime lab in the country that can provide real time forensic analysis across all disciplines to our law enforcement partners. I am thankful to the Governor and the Legislature for making the Crime Lab a priority during these difficult budget years. However, I am most thankful to the men and women of the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab who day in and day out dedicate themselves in the forensic discipline to bring justice to those who commit crime and hopefully closure to the victims and their families."
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said, "The State of Louisiana and particularly East Baton Rouge are very fortunate to have one of the nation's finest crime labs. This fully accredited laboratory has served our state well since its meager existence to its premier status today. This lab has worked diligently to reduce the previous backlog of DNA cases from many months to now a few days and in some cases an overnight turnaround. Today law enforcement relies heavily on the professionalism of criminalists and we have some of the best at the LSP Crime Lab. This lab not only helps identify those responsible for serious offenses, but also protects the innocent. My office is very fortunate to have the dedication of so many men and women professionals at the LSP Crime Lab. We could not begin to do our job without these people and this lab."
Louisiana Sheriffs Association Executive Director Mike Ranatza said, "Louisiana's Sheriffs value the partnerships we have established with the State Police Crime Lab and commend the employees for their support of law enforcement operations. The ability for deputies to submit evidence and have it analyzed in a timely manner is critical to the investigative process. The results of these efforts contribute to safer parishes by bringing suspects to justice and hopefully closure to victims and their families."
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."
Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said, "Repeatedly, including in Ascension parish, violent criminals, including serial rapists and murderers, have been brought to justice, convicted and imprisoned, thanks to the sophistication of the LSP lab facilities and the dedication of the analysts who work so hard to assist local law enforcement. We could not do our job without them."
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said, "For years LSP's Crime Lab has provided an invaluable service not only to law enforcement, but to the community as a whole. Today, we are seeing unprecedented analysis of evidence that is so expedited that the results are available while investigators are conducting their initial investigation. This parallel analysis is resulting in quick arrests that take dangerous criminals off the street and out of our community."
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 Governor 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. Further details about each section's efforts include:
· Successfully cleared more than 2,800 cases since 2008.
· Implemented two new drug efficiency policies that reduced the number of analyses by almost 10,000 per year.
· Identified all unworked narcotics cases that could be cancelled and returned due to adjudication.
· Improved section efficiency, resulting in only 30 out of 7669 cases ageing over 30 days and reducing the turnaround time from 140 days to an average of 15 days.
· Despite a rise of synthetic drug use and cannabinoids being the third most commonly submitted drug to the Crime Lab – Louisiana became the first state to control both synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones by its chemical makeup.
· Conducted necessary research to aggressively identify thousands of dangerous drugs all while reducing case turnaround time and ensuring the drugs were identified as quickly as possible.
Latent Prints Section
· Successfully cleared more than 1,000 cases since 2008.
· Provides real time results to all user agencies, with an average turnaround time of less than two weeks.
· Capable of providing evidence analysis on high priority cases and those that need immediate attention in a matter of hours.
· Experts in the Latent Print Section continue to excel in the fields of print processing, print comparison, fire debris analysis, and impression comparison – employing two recent graduates of the prestigious National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) Print Comparison and Impression Comparison training program.
· Through AFIS hits and manual comparison/processing of evidence, the Latents Unit has provided several hundred leads to agencies over the last few years, including several cold cases and high- priority cases that would have otherwise gone unsolved or not had enough evidence for successful prosecution.
· Cleared more than 800 cases since 2008 and continues to be a leader in the forensic firearms field for the amount of cases processed and cleared.
· This unit has had an examiner graduate from the National Firearms Examiner Academy (NFEA), and another examiner who is currently completing training at NFEA.
· The Firearms unit continues to play a key role working with the East Baton Rouge Violent Crimes Unit (EBRVCU) and has aided them by establishing links between crimes and gang activity in the Baton Rouge area and in some cases between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
· Cleared more than 3,700 cases since 2008.
· No longer outsourcing cases.
· Installed and validated two new instruments allowing enhanced detection.
· Developing synthetic drug confirmation capability to solve synthetic drug related crimes faster.
The State Police Crime Lab works to assist local law enforcement in investigations across the state. Most notably, it has helped the East Baton Rouge Violent Crime Unit – a permanent multi-agency investigative workforce – that includes the Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and several other law enforcement agencies. 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.