Police departments in Arizona are getting $2.5 million from the federal government to help process DNA.
Sarah Hart, director of the National Institute of Justice, said Tuesday the cash will go a long way toward compiling a comprehensive national database of samples that will help solve old crimes. The funds will go toward reducing the backlog of untested samples sitting on lab shelves.
But Hart said the money also will go a long way toward letting police use DNA evidence to solve new crimes — and not just in the highprofile cases.
"The idea is to make sure DNA is used early on in investigations where it can eliminate innocent suspects and allow law enforcement to focus their resources on the truly guilty,’’ Hart said.
More than $1 million is going to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission which, in turn, will divide it up among crime laboratories in Mesa, Tucson, Scottsdale and Phoenix, based on their crime rates. Phoenix also is getting a separate grant of $993,500.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety is in line for close to $520,000.