This report focuses on the need to expand the
use of the DNA database program in solving crimes. This program allows law
enforcement to match crime-scene evidence against a database containing DNA
profiles of people who have already been convicted of specific crimes.
Arizona’s program has two primary problems. First, fewer than 2,000 of the
7,623 samples received from convicted offenders are analyzed and in the
database. Second, police agencies are generally not submitting crime-scene
samples to be compared against the database. While the crime lab is taking steps
to reduce the backlog of offender samples, including outsourcing samples, it
needs to expand its efforts to analyze non-suspect crime-scene evidence.
The report also recommends that the crime lab
take further action to address a substantial backlog of work in the toxicology
unit. This unit, which analyzes blood and urine samples for alcohol and drugs,
had a backlog of nearly 1,200 samples in February, with some going unanalyzed
for more than 5 months. The report identifies five steps to help reduce the
backlog, ranging from streamlining procedures to finding ways to focus more of
criminalists’ time on analytical activities.