Friday, August 10, 2012

Grant given to KBI to help with DNA testing backlog

By SHAUN HITTLE, The Lawrence Journal-World

It won’t eliminate the DNA testing backlog at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, but a $319,000 federal grant certainly will help.

“It’s good news,” said Kyle Smith, deputy director of the KBI.

The grant, announced by U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom Thursday, comes from the National Institute of Justice and the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs.

“The demand for DNA testing continues to grow and crime laboratories are struggling to keep up,” Grissom said in a news release. The funds are designed to help reduce current backlogs, as well as speed up DNA testing turnaround times.

Smith said the funds will help pay for overtime work by scientists, as well as testing supplies. Currently, the KBI prioritizes DNA testing for active criminal cases, while testing for some older cases without known suspects can take years to test.

Earlier this year, Smith said the KBI’s DNA backlog stood at more than 200 cases, some dating back to 2004.

In addition, Johnson County — which is one of several local Kansas jurisdictions with certified DNA testing labs — was awarded a $247,000 grant to help reduce backlog and speed up DNA testing turnaround times at its forensics laboratory.