TOPEKA — The backlog of DNA sampling in Kansas is being reduced thanks to $1 million in new state funding, state Attorney General Steve Six said Wednesday.
Six said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has trimmed the backlog of more than 38,000 unprocessed DNA samples in September 2009 to just more than 11,000 as of late August. The samples were taken from people under arrest and collected at crime scenes.
"An issue local prosecutors and law enforcement officials brought to me time and time again is the delay in processing DNA samples that are crucial to bringing criminals to justice," Six said.
He said recent changes in Kansas law required not only those convicted of crimes but those arrested to give DNA samples, creating the backlog for processing. The backlog was reduced starting with the oldest samples.
KBI Director Bob Blecca said the reduction has led to matches with crimes under investigation in Kansas and other states.
"This has been a tremendous boost," he said.
Six said the backlog could be eliminated as soon as February. But he cautioned that additional resources are needed to stay current with the samples, such as a new crime lab. The KBI currently operates labs in Topeka, Great Bend and Kansas City.
"You just triage what you can in these tough times," he said.
Federal grants also were used to increase lab resources, Six said, along with changes internally at the KBI to improve efficiency.
Blecca said he didn't know how much more money would be needed to stay current with the DNA samples, of which some 16,000 were received last year. He also said the agency remained understaffed, but changes were made in operations, including information technology and the crime lab, to stretch resources.
"We are short 17 agents right now," Blecca said.