Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley introduced Tuesday the new director who has been overseeing the department’s forensic lab for the last several months.
Dana Kadavy was previously the director of biological sciences at the Austin branch of the Signature Science lab for 15 years. The Austin City Council in February 2017 approved a $2 million contract with Signature Science to help with Austin police’s backlog of sexual assault kits.
All Austin police department forensic services will be under Kadavy’s purview, including crime scene collection and analysis. The department’s forensic services include fingerprint examinations, toxicology tests and ballistics investigations, she said. She also manages the evidence unit.
“I’m really excited about that role, and I am responsible for and committed to the technical defensibility and quality of services coming out of the forensic science division,” she said Tuesday.
Kadavy, who was hired in November, was introduced at a December meeting of Austin’s Public Safety Commission and has spoken at several Austin City Council work sessions, but Tuesday was the first time she participated in a news conference and was introduced to the general public.
Kadavy and Manley addressed the sexual assault kit backlog Tuesday and reiterated details shared last week. The American-Statesman reported Friday that the lab had finished sending off all of the Police Department’s remaining sexual assault kits to be tested elsewhere, placing the city one step closer to eliminating the backlog of untested evidence in these criminal cases.
Manley decided to close the lab in 2016 after an audit found its analysts weren’t following correct scientific procedures. Manley said Tuesday it’s still unclear what the lab will look like in the future.
The DNA division of the lab is still operating under the Texas Department of Public Safety, though Kadavy — who was hired in November — is a city police department employee, said Anna Sabana, Austin police spokeswoman. The DNA division is still outsourcing all DNA evidence, including sexual assault kits, to outside labs to be tested.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct a mistake about who Kadavy is replacing.