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Fingerprints go untested at Sheriff's Department: Did cuts go too far?

June 15, 2010 |  8:18 am

TalkBackLABudget cuts have created a backlog in the processing of fingerprints at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Cuts ordered by Sheriff Lee Baca have caused delays for more than 65 homicide investigations and resulted in the destruction of potential leads in scores of other crimes.

Some burglary victims have had to stay away from parts of their homes or temporarily close their businesses to avoid smudging prints and destroying potentially vital evidence. For others, the delayed response has been too much of a burden. Sheriff's officials estimate that since the cuts went into effect in March, 10% of burglary victims have simply cleaned up and moved on with their lives because they couldn't afford to wait. By comparison, the LAPD says its average response time for collecting prints is 24 to 48 hours.

Baca was forced to cut his budget by $128 million. In addition to the fingerprint backlog, the department has closed some jail wings and increased early releases of nonviolent offenders.

Read more here, and in the video above, Times staff writer Robert Faturechi analyzes the options for the cash-strapped agency.

Should the department spend more on fingerprints? Tell us what you think.