Improving On Dna
Improvements in technology have enabled the DNA lab of the Mesa (Arizona) Police Department to eliminate suspects and solve more cases. In July, the department’s DNA unit helped solve or contribute new clues to 14 cases, nearly triple its average monthly rate.
With advances in technology, DNA analysts no longer need enough fluid to cover a fourth of a dime to refine, duplicate, and detect its properties. DNA analysts are now able to work with about one-fiftieth the old amount of fluid, or just enough to cover the tip of a pen, to use as evidence.
“It used to be that if you had a knife or something that was used, you were looking for the victim on the blade,” explains Gini Smart, head of the DNA unit. “We’re looking now for the suspect on the handle.” The DNA unit, like other local labs, uses the Combined DNA Index System to update cases with State labs in Flagstaff, Tucson, and Phoenix, and cross-reference samples from active investigations in State and Federal databases.
Crime lab administrator Jon Kokanovich says matches result in convictions, eliminations of suspects, and connections in cases thought to be unrelated.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Arizona Republic (09/25/03) P. 1; Babcock, Brandon.