- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota’s Criminal Investigation Division has significantly reduced the average turnaround time for forensic testing this year, according to officials.

The average wait time for DNA test results at the state crime lab dropped from 123 days in January to 33 days in November, Jon Bierne, director of the division’s crime lab, told the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/12T1YI5 ). The lab is using new technology and is working more closely with agencies sending in samples for crimes ranging from sexual assault to burglary, Bierne said.

Staff training has also helped reduce wait times, Bierne said. Training in DNA processing can take about 15 months. Division management has been entirely focused on reducing turnaround times rather than reducing backlogs because many open cases depend on scientific proof to make arrests, he said.

Although the South Dakota lab doesn’t process nearly as many cases, its turnaround is faster than in Iowa, where average turnaround is just over 60 days, Alex Murphy of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said. The lab in Des Moines handled more than 14,500 cases over the past year.

The state lab in Pierre has handled 787 cases in 2014, up from 544 in 2010. The lab handles most crime scene testing requests but not basic blood testing for DUIs or drug testing. Six employees focus on DNA testing, while two others specialize in fingerprints and another two with firearms and tool marks.



Lt. Matt Burns of the Sioux Falls Police Department said he has noticed the improvement and appreciates the crime lab’s efforts to improve turnaround.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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