POLICE Magazine

OCT 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/1037204

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Page 74 of 80

urrent DNA testing and analysis methods present signicant challenges for law enforcement agencies. High costs and the time required to process DNA samples have limited this scien- tic approach largely to felony crimes. Even with this constrained use, high volumes of samples are le• untested for months or longer, leaving many crime labs with backlogs of evidence and hampering law enforce- ment e•orts. Delays in processing DNA evidence can leave suspects free to commit heinous crimes and cause investigative leads to grow cold. According to a study conducted by the city of Chicago, the inability to arrest just eight o•enders on rst capture allows another 60 violent crimes to occur. In addition, despite studies showing that DNA evidence increases convic- tion rates, law enforcement has had little opportunity to use this evidence for less serious crimes such as drug o•enses and stolen property. A report published by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) found that laboratories processed 10% more forensic DNA cases in 2011 than in 2009. DNA backlogs (samples more than 30 days old) also continued to increase as demand for forensic DNA services rose 16.4% in the same pe- riod, and the demand continues to outpace capacity. ‹e report conclud- ed that reducing backlogs would require hiring additional DNA analysts, retraining trained personnel, and automating work processes. Rapid DNA Rapid DNA proling technologies have been developed to help address these challenges. One system, for example, automates DNA proling from a simple cheek swab, generating results in about 90 minutes. ‹e "swab in, prole out process" takes less than ve minutes of hands-on time, and performs all necessary steps of DNA analysis without human intervention. Reagents in disposable cartridges are loaded onto the sys- tem with up to eight buccal (cheek) swab samples. A•er a sample run is started, samples are processed with no further user interaction. ‹e system extracts DNA and performs short tandem repeat (STR) amplications, electrophoretic separations, and so•ware analysis to generate full human identication proles. ‹e ndings are then used to search the linked DNA database to nd matching hits or compare to swabs taken from suspects. ‹is integration enables law en- forcement agencies to reduce the time it takes to generate a DNA prole and make decisions while arrestees are in custody. Fears that rapid DNA instruments will replace crime lab jobs, however, are unfounded. In reality, as the demand for DNA evidence continues to rise, rapid DNA technology will greatly benet crime labs by automating the more monotonous testing of reference samples, freeing up DNA ana- lysts to work on high-value challenge samples. In the Field Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey says the benet of rapid DNA processing is that o˜cers will be able to quickly identify persons arrested and that will reduce the strain on state resources. "‹e ability to know a suspect's identity within 90 minutes will change the whole legal argument when it comes to the constitutionality of taking DNA upon arrest," he adds One of the most prevalent rapid DNA processing tools is the Ap- plied Biosystems RapidHIT ID System by ‹ermo Fisher Scientic. ‹e RapidHIT ID can be deployed as a mobile unit by techs and qualied o˜- cers in the eld. Samples are also conned to the system during the analy- sis process, which improves sample tracking and establishes a clear chain 14 | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | I N V E S T IG AT I V E T E C H NO L O G I E S ILLUSTRATION: GETTY IMAGES SPEEDING UP DNA ANALYSIS NEW TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP LABS CLEAR BACKLOGS, APPLY THE TOOL MORE OFTEN TO PROPERTY CRIME INVESTIGATIONS, AND BRING SAMPLE ANALYSIS TO THE FIELD. A N N E T T E S U M M E R S C

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