APD’s Backed Up DNA Backlog
The department still holds evidence from 3,294 sexual assault cases
Austin Police Commander Michael Eveleth told the Public Safety Commission on Monday that the forensics unit he's overseen since late December still holds evidence requiring DNA testing from 3,294 sexual assault cases. That includes all newly filed cases as well as the cases that had built up in the department's backlog over the past couple of years, and the 2,454 kits that have been held in the "back backlog" – kits that have sat untested since the Nineties and are currently testing through the New York County D.A.'s Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Elimination Grant. Toward the end of 2016, it appeared as though APD's impending contract with Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science (SWIFS) would help eliminate the newer kits. But after just 22 cases were sent to SWIFS, the Dallas County lab canceled its contract. The 22 cases haven't been tested and have yet to be returned. Currently, the city's backlog is spread between SWIFS, Sorenson Forensics in Utah, Signature Science in North Austin, the FBI, Bode Cellmark Forensics, and the Department of Public Safety, where new cases are being sent. According to APD Assistant Chief Troy Gay, 24-30 new rape kits get filed each month.