COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus Division of Police is trying to get through its backlog of cases more efficiently, with city leaders saying it isn’t just important for public safety, but also to bring closure to victims and their families.

The division of police is getting a $1 million federal grant to help get through the backlog, with most of the money being put towards new crime lab equipment.

At every crime scene, police collect evidence, which then gets tested at the Columbus crime lab. Those lab results often are key in solving cases.

“Victims of crime, their families, the ones that are left with questions in their mind deserve closure to move forward,” said Columbus City Councilmember Emmanuel Remy, who chairs council’s Public Safety Committee.

Remy said part of the reason for the current backlog at the crime lab is the pandemic. According to Columbus police, as of earlier this week, detectives are waiting on results from more than 2,000 pieces of DNA and evidence to be pulled from more than 1,400 guns.

“This isn’t exclusive to Columbus, Ohio,” Remy said. “It’s been something departments across the country have been dealing with. We are on the right track besides this grant, but we are on the right track and this grant’s going to make it even more effective in the work we’ve been doing.”

The grant Remy is talking about is one just approved Monday, a $1 million grant from the federal government to help clear the backlog. The new equipment funded by the grant will deal with DNA and ballistic evidence.

“There will also be two additional genetic analyzers which will allow them to look at more samples and to be analyzed in concurrent batches, so as you said, it will help with the current backlog they’re having,” said Tim Williams, deputy director of the Columbus Department of Public Safety.

Remy said the technology bought with the grant money should help the team at the lab get through evidence more efficiently. 

“Parents, family members, friends, deserve the opportunity to have closure in their lives so all this work is going to be beneficial to those people that are victims of crime,” he said.

The grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan funding.