Rapid DNA Bill Advances, Would Allow Field Officers to Quickly Test Evidence
A bill allowing police in the field permission to quickly test DNA evidence of suspects advanced to the House floor.
With the invent of Rapid DNA, a printer-sized screening instrument, agents in the field can quickly do the work previously reserved for accredited lab technicians and efficiently clear innocent suspects and detain criminals.
At the moment, the only DNA swabs allowed to be run against the FBI’s central DNA database for matches are those analyzed in a crime lab.
Taking this work out of the hands of lab technicians would also free them up to clear rape kit backlogs, among other things, say Judiciary Committee members who crafted the bill.
The Rapid DNA devices would not only save the federal government time, but also money with the estimated price per DNA run $235, compared to $500 with a lab technician.
Rapid DNA analysis would have "profound implications" for criminal justice, said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., who co-sponsored the measure.
"Arrestees may be exonerated in crimes in two hours rather than waiting for up to 72 hours for release or months for more standard DNA testing," he said before Thursday's voice vote of approval.
FBI Director James Comey said allowing this Rapid DNA technology to connect to the FBI DNA database would "change the world."
The measure would allow authorities, "in booking stations around the country, if someone's arrested, to know instantly -- or near-instantly -- whether that person is the rapist who's been on the loose in a particular community before they're released on bail and get away, or to clear somebody, to show that they're not the person," he said. "We are very grateful that we're going to have the statutory authorization if that passes to connect those rapid DNA technologies to the national DNA database."
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