(KMOV) -- There are more violent criminals than you may think walking freely on our streets.
News 4 has uncovered a huge backlog of cases within St. Louis County that have not been passed on to prosecutors. Prosecutors have to have the paperwork in order to file any charges.
Lt. Mason Keller with the St. Louis County Police Department says "it used to be sometimes our backlog would lengthen the time it took cases to get to the prosecuting attorney but now they will go directly to them and they'll let us know what to pay attention to."
Keller says a new 30-day rule will put the criminals in jail faster. Up until now, cases were not required to be looked at for up to six months.
Now cases will be prioritized; rapes, murders and other violent crimes will get reviewed right away so evidence can be processed quickly.
"Let’s say we don’t have a suspect that's identified, if we're looking for an unknown subject it’s crucial we get information out to investigators as fast as we can,” says Keller.
Depending on the case, it can take hours, days, even months to process certain evidence.
Not only is the county hiring additional personnel for its new crime lab, they're buying new equipment to help turn cases around a lot faster.
Keller says, “It will decrease turnaround time in the lab and in essence give efficiency to process and get warrants issued more timely."
The new St. Louis County crime lab is set to open in October.