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One of the many predicted benefits of regulating marijuana is to allow police to focus on solving violent crimes, and an investigation into the Oakland Police Department shows just how imperative that focus is. In 2012, OPD solved only 28% of homicides, a figure that is largely due to an incredible backup of untested evidence. The OPD’s crime lab has yet to test evidence pertaining to 659 homicide cases, some of which are 10 years old. Furthermore, the crime lab has no idea which of the cases with outstanding evidence have even been adjudicated or closed, meaning cases are being settled before the evidence has even been tested.
What makes all of this even more outrageous is that the OPD crime lab has processed evidence for 95% of all suspected drug cases within 24 hours of receiving it and has no backlog of evidence for drug cases. They have prioritized drugs over murder.
There is no excuse for allowing homicide evidence to go untested while pouring precious resources into testing evidence for every single drug case. We need to focus the resources of our criminal justice system on violent crimes.