The Baltimore Police Department will get more than $500,000 in federal grants to reduce a significant backlog in processing DNA evidence, according to Maryland's two U.S. senators.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice through the DNA Backlog Reduction Program, will reduce the turnaround time in processing DNA samples and reduce processing backlogs, U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin said in a statement Thursday.
A review by the state Office of Legislative Audits released in June found Baltimore had the second-longest DNA processing turnaround time in 2011, following Prince George's County. About 1,350 DNA samples collected by Baltimore police were not analyzed in that year, according to the state review, while Baltimore County had about 180 untested samples by the end of 2011. The Prince George's County police department had about 1,240 samples awaiting testing in 2011.
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The average turnaround time to analyze DNA samples was 304 days in Baltimore, according to the review. In Baltimore County, the sample turnaround time was 164 days, and in Prince George's County, samples were processed in an average of 542 days, auditors found.
"DNA testing is crucial for crime investigations, but a great deal of evidence that could implicate or eliminate suspects is sitting untested in laboratories," Cardin said in the statement. "This federal funding will remedy DNA backlogs that are hindering public safety and the swift administration of justice in Maryland."