While shows on T.V. may show fingerprints being instantly matched via lightning fast computers, reality doesn’t reflect the Hollywood hype. In Los Angeles, it can take months for fingerprints to run through law enforcement systems, and even violent crimes can take weeks.

But to help rein in the backlog of fingerprint cases, the LAPD has introduced a new policy of rationing fingerprint analysis. Starting in the next few months, processing prints from non-violent property crimes will be rationed, with each of the 21 stations in the LAPD system allowed just 10 expedited requests per month. Other cases similar cases will be added to a wait list and processed when able.

The policy is designed to help a beleaguered group of analysts catch up with the cases it already has, and keep pace with the estimated 19,000 fingerprint requests processed each year.

The policy isn’t intended to make sure every case is processed; rather they hope it will force detectives to identify the highest priority cases.

From the Los Angeles Times:

A shortage of fingerprint experts at the Los Angeles Police Department has caused a large backlog of unanalyzed fingerprints, resulting in long delays to thousands of active criminal investigations.

The LAPD’s beleaguered Latent Print Unit has failed to analyze fingerprints from about 2,200 burglaries, auto thefts and other property-related crimes, according to department figures. Detectives wait on average between two and three months to get print results back from the lab, LAPD officials said. In some cases, the delay can last more than a year and, in older cases in which the detectives have not pressed for analysis, prints are ignored altogether because the unit cannot keep up with the constant inflow of cases.

Read the full article here.