Sheriff puts DNA comparison to work in January

In a presentation before the civic roundtable last week, St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar gave an overview of a new tool available from DNA:SI Laboratories in Burlington, NC which will be put to a field test locally to measure the value of using DNA evidence in in high-volume crime situations.

“Under our current system,” Shoar observed, “we are only able to forward evidence in the most serious, violent offenses to the FDLE Lab on Davis Street in Jacksonville.”

The program, known as LODIS, expands the use of DNA beyond violent crimes — by creating a DNA Identity Repository of local offenders and crime scene evidence.

“There are only a small percentage of people who commit crimes like car breaks-ins,” Shoar said. “If we had access to a database like this, it is likely that we would begin identifying repeat offenders almost immediately.”

LODIS helps local agencies generate more leads for crimes which are locally committed and locally important.

LODIS accepts any legally collected DNA evidence police choose to submit for entry into their own local agency DNA Identity Repository.

“Officers simply submit the samples to the lab,” said Shoar. “The DNA hits and results are returned in days, not months.” Shoar told Historic City News reporters that accessing the information is as easy as opening an email.

Michael Gold, a Florida licensed private investigator and Historic City News editor, said that detective agencies have used private labs for some time. “A good example is in paternity cases or identification of badly decomposed human remains. The problem is that the private labs are too expensive for everyday use and the only national database, CODIS, is managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation — it is not available for non-criminal investigation.”

Gold pointed out that if you began to build a database of contributors, say at the time a suspect is booked at the St. Johns County Detention Facility, “it wouldn’t take too long before you would have a good core of identities.”

Shoar agreed and said that DNA is at least five times as likely to result in a suspect identification — compared with fingerprints. “Suspects identified by DNA had at least twice as many prior felony arrests and convictions as those identified by traditional investigations,” Shoar said.

Shoar hopes that using DNA in high-volume crime situations will increase the number of solved cases and says that the results won’t be hard to track. There is money available for this project in forfeitures and seizures from felony drug cases investigated in St. Johns County to undertake this program on a trial basis.

Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

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