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Sheriff's sleuths getting some help

Posted: October 8, 2008 9:14 p.m.
Updated: December 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Local CSI detectives will get some crime-fighting training that might make their TV counterparts green with envy.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved two grants totalling more than $1.2 million designed to help real crime scene investigators crack unsolved cases.

"From a local perspective, anything that's going to help us solve crimes and keep people here safe is going to be appreciated," said Sgt. Darren Harris of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.

Homicide detectives with the county Sheriff's Department continue to work diligently to solve two recent local murders.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a grant from the Governor's Office of Emergency Services totaling almost $160,000 and a second grant of $1.05 million from the United States Department of Justice.

All the money goes into a pot of resources at the Sheriff Department's Scientific Services Bureau Crime Lab and is intended to enhance law enforcement's ability to solve crimes.

The Sheriff's Department is expected to use the money to secure continued education and training for the crime lab's full-time forensic scientists.

Money will also be spent trying to eliminate backlogged cases in an effort to "improve the turn-around time for case analysis."

The grant money will buy supplies and pay for the outsourcing of cases that require DNA analysis.

"This is the real CSI come to fruition," said Tony Bell, spokesman for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, alluding to the popular award-winning TV crime show "CSI," scenes of which are shot in the Santa Clarita Valley.

"We have real crime that needs solving in L.A. County," he said. "We're using high-tech methods that will get us into the 21st century and eliminate the backlog so that we can solve crime in real time."

When asked about the size of the backlog of unsolved cases requiring DNA testing, Bell said: "It's a big challenge, but it's not an insurmountable goal."

Grant money will pay for DNA analysis done by private firms contracted by the Crime Lab, Bell said.

Santa Clarita detectives are still trying to identify the killers in two recent murders here.

On Sept. 26, Alonso Andrade was shot and killed in a robbery attempt during morning rush hour on Lyons Avenue at Apple Street.

Sheriff's detectives collected evidence such as a bullet and a spent cartridge found at the shooting scene.

The grant money approved Tuesday goes to crime lab funds needed to process such forensic evidence.

Just 10 days earlier and less than a mile from the Andrade shooting, Anthony Lombardi was shot and killed.

He was found with gunshot wounds in the upper torso and his body, facing backwards, draped half outside and half inside the driver's door of his Honda Accord coupe in the driveway of his home.


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