I write to set the record straight on the state crime lab, which is a premier facility nationally and provides free services to local law enforcement across Ohio.
When I took office in January 2009, the evidence backlogs at the lab were substantial, and we developed plans to reduce them. In DNA testing (the subject of the Register's discussion), we are using new robotics to cut those backlogs 34 percent so far. In forensic biology, the backlog is down 68 percent. We also expedite processing in all cases where local law enforcement informs us of special time constraints.
In this case, the Norwalk police told the lab on Oct. 19 that testing needed to be completed by Dec. 28. On November 16, our staff updated the police on their progress analyzing the samples. At that time, they learned (erroneously, it turned out) the suspect was not being held, and thus the time constraint was removed (the on-line docket indicated the same). On Dec. 1, the prosecutor's office told our staff the suspect was still in custody so the time constraint did apply. Expedited testing resumed, and would have been completed timely before Dec. 28, but we later learned the suspect was released on Dec. 8. We will finish our work, and as the prosecutor has noted, the suspect can be recharged if the evidence dictates.
As noted above, we agree with the Register's concerns. We are focused on making improvements to reduce our backlogs (despite state budget cuts) and continue to work diligently in individual cases to meet the time constraints of local law enforcement. We handle thousands of cases each year, and I stand fully behind the professionals in the state crime lab, who are outstanding and dedicated public servants.
Ohio Attorney General