While conducting an investigation of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice learned the city had a backlog of 830 untested rape kits, some dating back to the ‘80s and ‘90s. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the NOPD evidence storage facility flooded, damaging many of those kits.
In 2011, the National Institute of Justice awarded the city a grant to clear the backlog. The city partnered with Marshall University and outsourced the kits to Marshall’s Forensic Science Center for testing. Marshall analyzed each of the backlogged kits and an additional 178 kits from more recent cases within the past year. From the 1,008 kits tested, NOPD uploaded 256 DNA profiles to the DNA databank, resulting in 139 matches, 24 arrests and six convictions to date. Since eliminating the backlog, NOPD tests all current rape kits at the Louisiana state crime lab.
In addition to the backlog, when Commander Paul Noel took charge of NOPD’s sex crimes unit in 2010, he found letters informing the Department of 400 DNA hits on past cases that had never been investigated. As of October 2011, NOPD had investigated half of those cases and made 73 arrests.
Learn more about New Orleans's reforms and read about its efforts in the media here.