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Columbus City Council to help police department clear DNA evidence backlog

A crime evidence bag containing a rape kit.
Pat Sullivan
This Thursday, April 2, 2015 photo shows an evidence bag from a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston. Legislators in more than 20 states are considering _ and in some cases, passing _ laws that include auditing all kits and deadlines for submitting and processing DNA evidence.

Original story updated March 14 at 7:54 a.m.

Columbus city leaders hope to help the Columbus Division of Police catch up on their backlog of DNA evidence collected at crime scenes.

City county members voted Monday to approve the the purchase of 10 additional software licenses to help process evidence more quickly.

The STRmix software is especially useful for interpreting mixed DNA evidence—that is, when more than one DNA profile is present.

Columbus City Councilmember Emmanuel Remy, who chairs council's Public Safety Committee, said the software upgrades will help grieving families get answers faster.

"This is one of those pieces of software that helps to move the case along and provide clues for our detectives to help solve those crimes that have been committed," Remy said.

The city's evidence backlog is not unique to Columbus. Police departments across the nation have struggled with similar logjams over the last few years because of the pandemic, Remy said.

"We're committed to the safety and well-being of all of our residents, and so this is investing in that so that we can bring on the best people and the best equipment and tools to address crime and safety issues within our community," Remy said.

The software will be paid for with $183,075.00 of the $1 million American Rescue Plan Crime Lab Backlog Grant awarded to Columbus last October.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.