Colorado officer mishandles evidence from 48 rape cases

In an ideal world, everyone would do their jobs perfectly. They would be effective, ethical, honest workers and not make mistakes. If that were true, perhaps fewer people would be wrongfully charged and convicted of crimes. This point comes up due to a sensitive matter involving a Colorado police officer in Aurora.

The officer reportedly botched various cases of sexual assault by wrongfully destroying the DNA evidence associated with them. Clearly, the alleged victims of the 48 Colorado sex crime cases are upset by the incident. Their cases won’t get further in the system because of the lack of evidence. But this mistake suggests a wider problem beyond the realm of the various rape cases.

A panel of officials is investigating the officer’s destruction of the DNA evidence. His actions aren’t just a simple mistake. Evidence collected from rape kits — or DNA evidence collected from any crime scene — can be the difference between a criminal conviction or acquittal. It not only can be used to assign guilt, but it is also crucial to clearing one of any guilt or suspicion.

If the officer could mishandle crucial evidence like DNA from rape kits, what about other types of evidence associated with criminal cases? Hopefully, this officer’s behavior isn’t a sign that there is other questionable activity like this going on. Processes are in place at the various levels of the criminal justice system for a reason. That basic reason is to secure justice. Signs that processes might not be respected are a cause for great concern.

Source: 9 News, “Rape victim advocates say loss of DNA evidence in Aurora could have lasting consequences,” June 26, 2013