Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

DNA testing for crimes will be quicker

 

June 28, 2010

Law enforcement agencies practice swabbing for DNA at a local training session last week in Lake Stevens.

The Lake Stevens Police Department is constantly looking for ways to help the community and by contracting with DNA testing company Orchid Cellmark, they will be able to process DNA evidence from property crimes faster and more efficiently.

The LSPD has joined Edmonds Police Department, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department, Mill Creek Police Department, Marysville Police Department and several other law enforcement agencies statewide in contracting with Orchid Cellmark.

Washington State Patrol has been the sole provider of DNA analysis for crimes investigated by the LSPD, however, by contracting with Orchid for property crime cases, the LSPD can save time in working and solving cases.

“Currently our state crime labs do not have the resources to conduct timely DNA testing related to property crimes,” Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori said. “Orchid has made the collection of DNA at crime scenes easy for officers to collect and submit for analysis.”

Last week, the Lake Stevens Police Department hosted three different training sessions to local officers around Western Washington where they were taught how to test for DNA when collecting evidence at property crimes.

Washington State Patrol Lab employee Greg Frank, taught officers how and what to submit for DNA testing and how to protect officers during DNA collection.

“Washington State Patrol can’t handle every property crime that takes place in Washington, Franks, said. “ Orchid is giving a group rate to help cut the costs. WSP will still handle bigger crimes.”

Solving crimes such as car theft, burglaries, auto prowls and malicious mischief will become more likely with the help of Orchid Cellmark.

“Many residential burglaries go unsolved. The ability to utilize DNA will help us identify more subjects, which will lead to more arrests and recovery of victims property,” Celori explained. “In addition, the more subjects we can hold accountable for their crimes and take off the streets, will reduce the chances of everyone from becoming a victim.”

Detectives agree. Orchid takes 15-30 days to complete a profile while the WSP has a backlog of three to four months.

“Turnaround is an advantage to law enforcement,” Lake Stevens Police Department Detective Julie Jamison said.

At the training session, officers were given the opportunity to practice taking DNA samples from bloodstains and other evidence that can be left behind at crime scenes.

Law enforcement agencies practice swabbing for DNA at a local training session last week in Lake Stevens.

“A fingerprint smudge is a great source for DNA, not a great fingerprint,” Frank said.

Fingerprints can’t always be lifted or confirmed, but with a DNA sample the suspect tends to plead down their case, knowing that DNA is hard to argue with.

“DNA saves prosecutorial time, only one percent of cases (with DNA evidence) actually go to trial,” Frank said.

This system has proven to reduce crime rates 16 percent to 26 percent.

“Lower crime equals higher property values,” he said.

 

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