By Ron Shinkman, Editor, Laboratory Industry Report
A subsidiary of LabCorp has been named a preferred provider in what could be a significant growth field: Clearing the backlog of untested examination kits for victims of sexual assault.
The contract was awarded to Bode Cellmark by the New York County District Attorney’s office, which prosecutes crimes in Manhattan but is part of a nationwide initiative to eliminate a backlog of untested rape kits. Bode Cellmark is a member of LabCorp’s specialty testing group.
Backlogs of such kits have been growing in recent years as many law enforcement agencies have not had the funds or logistical skill to run the DNA tests required before the results can be run through a criminal database to search for potential suspects. There are at least 70,000 untested rape kits currently extant at police departments in the United States, according to a recent report on the topic by USA Today and other news agencies.
The U.S. Justice Department recently authorized $41 million to help ease the backlog nationwide and process the kits, with New York City authorizing another $38 million to address backlogs in 32 law enforcement jurisdictions in 20 states. The latter is expected to help process at least 56,475 rape kits, officials said, and the former, 13,500.
Bode indicated the designation would allow it to contract to perform tests in all of the New York City project’s jurisdictions.
“We look forward to utilizing more than three decades of casework experience, including past support of innovative programs in New York, Detroit and other cities, to provide forensic DNA testing solutions for DANY and BJA grant recipients,” said Bode Cellmark General Manager Michael Cariola in a statement.