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Turnaround for DNA testing at state crime lab improving
[January 04, 2013]

Turnaround for DNA testing at state crime lab improving

Jan 04, 2013 (The Columbus Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Ohio's crime lab slashed turnaround time on DNA testing to 20 from 125 days in two years, Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a news conference today.

Getting law enforcement and prosecutors critical test results six times faster is "sometimes a matter of life and death," DeWine said.

In high-priority cases, such as those involving multiple murders or a serial rapist, DNA tests can be completed in 72 hours.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation at London, Ohio, which is part of the attorney general's office, also decreased the wait time on drug tests to 10 from 43 days and entries into the national database entry to 8 from 24 days, DeWine said. The office gets an average of 155 "hits" per month on criminal inquiries entered into the database, which includes backgrounds on people who have committed crimes as well as DNA from unsolved crimes.

"This has been a major focus for us," DeWine said. "We are the lab for 90 percent of the law enforcement in this state. They can't go anywhere else." "We're pleased with where we are. We're not satisfied. We're never satisfied," he said.

The state lab provides services at no charge. Many larger cities have their own crime labs.

DeWine, a Republican, made improving the BCI labor a priority in his 2010 campaign against incumbent Democrat Richard Cordray.

After taking office in 2011, DeWine pronounced the DNA turn-around time of 125 days as " unacceptable." DeWine infused money and personnel into the London lab, including 24 new scientists. Overall, the lab went from 99 employees two years ago to 148 today. The lab also doubled the number of robot processing equipment to 12.

DeWine brought in Tom Strickrath, former sate Public Safety director and assistant prisons director, as BCI superintendent. Strickrath mapped out the processing time for crime-scene evidence for DNA testing, paring it down to 84 from 187 steps.

BCI has employees in Richfield, Bowling Green, Youngstown and Athens, in addition to London. @ohioaj ___ (c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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