Police Department officials can begin purchasing the high-tech equipment required to establish a long-awaited regional DNA testing laboratory after the Glendale City Council this week signed off on the move.
The City Council voted to allow police officials to use grant funding to purchase vital DNA equipment, including a $175,000 genetic analyzer, a $55,000 DNA extraction robot, general lab supplies, computers, and water purification and temperature monitoring systems.
The laboratory must also be accredited to acquire access to a national DNA database by using specific vendors and equipment, said Jay Kreitz, the department’s police business administrator.
“This is a very small industry, very highly regulated, because obviously the results that come out are very important as far as people’s lives hanging in the balance,” he said at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board has accredited 385 government and private forensic labs, according to a city report.
The Police Department must also purchase new flooring, cabinets and benches for the laboratory.
Processing DNA samples at the Police Department will cut costs, allow access to an FBI network and free up backlogged cases at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department crime lab, police Capt. Ray Edey said.
Over the last two years, Glendale detectives have waited a year for DNA samples to be processed in some homicide cases, he said.
“This is something in your own lab you can actually prioritize,” Edey said. “You can actually turn a sample around within 24 to 72 hours.”
The Police Department will also process forensic evidence gathered in property crimes, something the sheriff’s lab does not do.
Contracting with a private lab to process DNA could cost about $1,200 per swab, Edey said.
The Police Department, he said, will process samples for a fraction of that cost.