The $25 million New Orleans crime lab building remains under construction as the city works to once again get its own forensic DNA lab. The New Orleans Police Department on Tuesday (Jan. 31) introduced their newly hired crime lab director, Dr. Shamika Kelley.
“We want to make sure that we’re able to have DNA here. It’ll create positions and it will help us to hopefully get answers in a much quicker fashion,” says Dr. Kelley.
The DNA lab could be extremely valuable in solving some of the city’s most violent crimes. Experts say processing more samples could be a way of stopping serial criminals.
Dr. Kelley says her priority is getting that DNA lab up and running.
According to the NOPD, right now, most DNA exhibits are stored, untested in central evidence and processing. The NOPD has lacked the capacity to test DNA samples in-house ever since Hurricane Katrina. Instead, DNA samples are sent to the Louisiana State Police lab in Baton Rouge, but there’s a serious backlog there.
Data shows, and law enforcement sources confirm, DNA from most carjackings, burglaries, robberies, and even auto thefts never get sent to the state crime lab. One source tells FOX 8 that in more serious cases like homicides or sex crimes, police and prosecutors often have to pick and choose which samples to send off.