City to try regional lab for faster crime analysis

Facing lengthy backups on evidence analysis presented to the state crime laboratory, Evanston police are turning to a regional crime lab where results are expected to be quicker.

Aldermen backed a staff recommendation Monday that the city purchase a membership to the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory at a cost of $11,171 for the remainder of the year and $101,059 in 2015.

In a memo and presentation, Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington and Deputy Chief Jeff Jamraz placed stress on the backups police are experiencing awaiting results back on evidence submitted to the Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory.

The state has reduced the regional laboratories from three to one, the police officials noted.

“This reduction has caused a significant overload of cases analyzed results from weeks, into years,” they wrote. “Processing protocol for results are based on the order in which they are received. Over 100 suburban agencies and Chicago Police submit cases weekly to one lab, causing significant delays in results.”

Jamraz told members of the council’s Administration & Public Works Committee on Monday that “the key here is our turnaround,” in evidence submitted to the Northeast Illinois Regional Crime Lab.

From January to July of 2014, NIRCL has processed 4,048 cases with an overall average turnaround time of 28 hours, he said.

Meanwhile, evidence submitted to the state crime lab, even in important drug, weapons, and homicide cases can stretch out over months, even years, he told the committee.

“If you’ve been to court on some of these cases you know many months they may be continued,” he said about prosecutors seeking more time on cases as they wait for testing results to come back.

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