In Flagler County, Historic City News reporters learned that, in past years, investigators were largely dependent on the collection of latent fingerprint evidence at major crime scenes to identify persons involved in committing those crimes.
Reporters were recently invited to the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell for the announcement of the rural county’s venture into a DNA collection program and the creation of a local DNA database for criminal investigations.
“Law enforcement has known for quite some time that the vast majority of crime is committed by a small number of people,” said Sheriff James L. Manfre. “Now that we have this new cutting edge technology, and a fulltime CSI, we will be bringing crime scene investigation in Flagler County to an entirely new level.”
Commander Bob Weber, M.A. provided us an opportunity to speak with the agency’s new crime scene technician, Laura Pazarena. She has most recently served as a Forensic Subject Matter Expert for the Defense Department in Arlington, Virginia; where she managed forensic related projects for the agency. Pazarena brings an extensive background in forensics and crime scene processing to the agency. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University in 2005. Between 2010 and 2012, she was deplsaoyed in Afghanistan where she served as an evidence custodian and case file manager.
Pazarena is providing training to deputies about how to collect DNA samples of touch, blood or body fluid samples that may be left at crime scenes. The Sheriff’s Office has signed a contract with DNA Labs International, based in Deerfield Beach, to process specimens collected in the field.
“Since we are no longer dependent on the FDLE Crime Lab to examine our DNA evidence, we will be able to avoid restrictions imposed on the types of crimes we can submit for analysis,” Manfree said. “The processing of that evidence by FDLE often took months due to the volume of submissions being made by other law enforcement agencies in the Jacksonville region.”
DNA Labs International will analyze and create a local databank from DNA samples that are collected by the agency’s crime scene technician and deputies. Samples collected by the agency will then be compared with results of previous submissions in the local databank and then submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement where they will be uploaded and compared to previous submissions contained in both state and the FBI national DNA database Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).