Illinois to Use Lean Six Sigma to Address Police Forensics Lab Backlog

Illinois to Use Lean Six Sigma to Address Police Forensics Lab Backlog

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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A new initiative by Illinois state officials proves once again that the principles of Lean Six Sigma are useful in many different organizations – including law enforcement.

In this case, state officials hope to use the methodology in tandem with innovative technology and other initiatives to elevate Illinois from its current ranking as having the most unsolved murder cases. The state faces a backlog of 21,000 forensics tests, according to one news report.

In a news release, Gov. JB Pritzker and acting State Police Director Brendan Kelly announced that Lean Six Sigma will play a large role in improving operations at Illinois state police labs, the largest lab system in the country. The six labs employ about 500 forensic workers who handle more than 70,000 forensic assignments every year.

Kelly said that without the labs, “justice would not happen in many cases.” Pritzker, who took office in January 2019, made improving the efficiency of the labs and cutting down on the backlog of cases a priority during his campaign.

In the release, Kelly said the state will focus on improving “accountability, transparency, evidence-based processes, manpower and technology to reduce turnaround time for consumers of forensic services.”

The State Backlog

The backlog for forensic tests in Illinois is enormous. In February 2019, the Peoria-based ABC TV affiliate reported 21,000 tests remained unfinished. Of those, 5,000 involved DNA evidence from cases dating back for years.

It’s led to unsolved cases, many of them involving murder. WGN 9 in Chicago reported at the end of 2018 that 752 murder cases in Chicago alone had gone unsolved because the DNA tests in the cases had not yet been performed.

That’s contributed to Illinois being ranked last among all U.S. states in solving murders, according to WGN.

How Illinois Will Use Lean Six Sigma

In the news release, state officials said they plan to contract with a service that specializes in implementing Lean Six Sigma methodology in a variety of settings, including forensics labs. They will work specifically to implement “effective and efficient measures” to cut down on the backlog in the laboratory system.

Lean Six Sigma strategies will no doubt play a role in accomplishing many of the goals laid out by the state. They include:

Accountability – Forensic services leaders will be required to hold regular meetings to monitor turnaround time on lab assignments using more accurate data that will come from a new information management system being put into place.

Cutting unnecessary steps – For example, labs now contact prosecutors or law enforcement agencies for permission to test DNA if the test is going to consume the entire sample, an unnecessary, time-delaying request in most cases. Cutting such unnecessary actions is a hallmark of Lean.

Technology – In addition to the new information management system, the state also is investing in other DNA-test related technologies to speed up the process and streamline the operation.

Past Success

In putting Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques to use in cutting waste, Illinois is the latest in a long (and growing) line of government agencies that have turned to the methodology to cut waste and become more efficient in delivering services to taxpayers.

In Tulsa, Okla., city officials used Lean Six Sigma to cut the number of cases in their forensic lab backlog in half. They did so by uncovering unnecessary steps in the process.

The District 5 Idaho State Police used principles of Lean Six Sigma when designing the forensics lab at the district’s new $6 million headquarters. The design maximizes efficiency and reduced unnecessary extra steps, including putting people working together close to one another.

Illinois itself also has used Lean Six Sigma. The state’s Department of Public Health has used Kaizen Events and Plan-Do-Study-Act as part of its commitment to continuous process improvement.

These successes show that Lean Six Sigma has its uses in law enforcement and science labs – just as it does in manufacturing, software engineering and any other profession that involves processes.

The post Illinois to Use Lean Six Sigma to Address Police Forensics Lab Backlog appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: admin
Posted: April 11, 2019, 10:00 am

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