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LAPD fingerprints backlog spurs rationing plan, officials say

July 23, 2012 | 10:23 am

Forensic prints
The Los Angeles Police Department has decided on a rationing plan for their fingerprints analysis unit after years of housing a large backlog of unanalyzed prints, officials said.

The plan, which is expected to roll out in the coming months, will give LAPD's 21 police stations and specialized divisions 10 cases each month in which fingerprints will be analyzed promptly, Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.

All other cases will be placed on a waiting list. In addition, said Albanese, a handful of officers will be trained to collect prints at crime scenes to allow the print unit to spend more time in the lab analyzing prints.

"We're taking in more than we can process," Albanese told the department's oversight board recently. "We have to look at our capacity."

The move comes after years of waiting between two and three months to get prints back from the lab, LAPD officials said. In some cases, the delay can last more than a year and sometimes, in older cases when the detectives don't press for prints, they are ignored altogether.

"In a perfect world, we'd get results back in a day or two," said Michael Brausam, a detective in the LAPD's Central Division. "The longer you leave these criminals out on the street, they're likely going to be committing more crimes. And, if you do get a match on prints months later, it can be much harder to prove your case."


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Photo: Forensic Print Specialist Jimmy Wong, using a microscope, manually compares a latent print to a known print from the Los Angeles County fingerprint database. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times