FBI Laboratory Division Assistant Director Christian Hassell told members of a House panel Thursday that the bureau is reviewing ways to improve the efficiency of the national DNA database.
Hassell said his division is meeting with state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to get input on how to decrease the backlog in the FBI’s National DNA Index System, which contains DNA profiles that are used by laboratories to help solve crimes.
“The FBI considers this review to be a regular, healthy activity resulting from improvements in technology and lessons learned from almost 12 years of experience in the operation of NDIS,” Hassell said in a prepared statement before the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing. “As the administrator of this national database, the FBI has an obligation to perform this procedural review to ensure that law enforcement agencies are not hindered by procedural limitations, thus limiting the number of samples added to NDIS and decreasing the efficacy of NDIS in solving crime.”
There are tens of thousands of untested “rape kits,” which are used to collect evidence after a rape. The data from the kits are then put into the NDIS. Rape victim advocates have pushed for legislation that would address the backlog.
Panel members expressed frustration with the untested kits.
“Compounding the terrible crime of rape itself is the fact that tens of thousands of rape kits, which hold the key to justice, are not being analyzed in a timely manner,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) “That there is any rape kit backlog at all is simply wrong and intolerable.”