Topeka Kansas’ attorney general said Tuesday that a state lab has a backlog of more than 38,000 DNA samples and suggested budget problems could keep some crimes unsolved longer.
Attorney General Steve Six said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation lab handling DNA testing doesn’t have enough money to keep up with samples submitted by law enforcement agencies. State funding for the lab is 4.8 percent lower than two years ago, and the KBI’s share of state dollars has dropped nearly 13 percent.
Six spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said while the KBI can keep up with samples from new crime-scene investigations, it can’t process all samples collected following any arrest for a felony.
The KBI lab is supposed to test the sample for each person arrested and enter the results in a database. Later, when a DNA sample is taken from a crime scene, it can be run through the database to find a match.
“There is a possibility, because these samples are not in the database, that some crimes could go unsolved,” Anstaett said.
Six wants legislators to restore money to the KBI’s budget so the lab can fill vacant positions and work on the backlog.
Full staffing for the lab is 58 employees; it has the equivalent of 46 full-time staff and one part-time employee.
But State Budget Director Duane Goossen said finding additional money for any agency will be difficult.
The state has seen four rounds of spending cuts this year to keep the budget balanced during its 2010 fiscal year, which began July 1. Tax collections for July, August and September were $67 million short of expectations, a 5 percent shortfall.
“We’re poised to do more surgery on the budget,” Goossen said.
The KBI is supposed to receive $15.3 million in state tax dollars during fiscal 2010, a drop of almost $2.3 million from fiscal 2008. Funding for its DNA lab is $3.6 million, or about $184,000 less than two years ago.
In 2002, the state went from requiring samples from only convicted sex offenders to collecting them from all convicted felons. Last year, legislators expanded the law to require samples from anyone arrested for a felony, whether they are convicted or not.
Lt. Ken Landwehr, who heads the Wichita police homicide division, said having such a database means some criminals are apprehended sooner.
He said Wichita police have from 25 to 30 hits a year from DNA samples taken from burglary sites. Landwehr also noted that DNA evidence led to the 2007 arrest in Arizona of a suspect in a woman’s disappearance; the man admitted dismembering and hiding her body.
Six recently noted that a Salina man convicted this year of killing a north-central Kansas farmer had been linked to the crime scene in Osborne County by DNA evidence on a cigarette. The defendant had a previous rape conviction.