(The Center Square) – Illinois State Police officials reported a 33 percent overall reduction in the state’s backlog of untested forensic evidence in crime labs.
A Forensic Science Task Force was formed last year to make recommendations addressing the challenges of forensic services. The task force included of 15 representatives from law enforcement, the defense bar, prosecutors, advocacy groups and others.
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said he was pleased with the initial results.
“It’s a good first step,” he said. “I think it is showing the work of our forensic scientists and the entire team have put in over the past year is starting to yield some results and I’m excited about the potential of what the task force is recommending to maintain that momentum so we continue to move in the right direction.”
The reduction of forensic backlogs is a long-term challenge faced by crime laboratories across the country.
“For every forensic case assignment that is completed, 1.2 are created,” Kelly said. “That means there is a continued growing backlog, which has impacted not just Illinois, but every lab system around the country.”
The Illinois State Police’s Division of Forensic Services uses technology to help reduce backlogs and turnaround times. The division has implemented laboratory accountability measures, robotics, Rapid DNA, and hired and trained additional forensic scientists.
More than $50 million was allocated for critical laboratory infrastructure needed to rebuild forensic capacity.
To provide transparency about the agency’s progress, the Department of Forensic Services has launched a publicly available web-based dashboard to provide information on processing times and backlogs.