WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — The State Bureau of Investigation's effort to clear a backlog of unsolved crimes took a step forward Tuesday. New agents are joining the force and they could help clear hundreds of cases that have turned cold.
The State Bureau of Investigation grew by 18 agents on Tuesday. Five of the new agents will be assigned to the DNA evidence lab.
"DNA technology helps us solve violent crimes, rapes and murders," attorney general Roy Cooper said.
Recently though, solving some of those kinds of crimes has been difficult. For years, a lack of staffing at the SBI Crime lab prevented agents from analyzing DNA in cases without identifed suspects. Thousands of rape kits have been left sitting on shelves collecting dust, DNA went unanalyzed and cases have turned cold.
Officials hope new agents will be one more step towards clearing up that backlog, but do not expect all the state's unsolved cases to suddenly be cleared. The new agents assigned to the crime lab still have plenty of training ahead of them.
In addition to the new agents, the lab will be doubling its DNA database of violent offenders and stalkers.
"As soon as our database is filled, we'll be able to do more cases and work them quickly," Cooper said.
The new agents and the increased database could help eventually bring justice to victims across the state who have been waiting patiently for years.
Tuesday's graduation brings the number of people doing DNA analysis to 13. Attorney General Roy Cooper hopes to increase that number to 28 within the next year and a half.