ST. GEORGE — DNA can now be read in less time than it would typically take to catch a flight. This new technology may soon be used to speed up the process to identify perpetrators or exonerate people accused of crimes.
Senate Bill 139 – proposing the Rapid DNA Act of 2017 – sponsored by Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch made its way to President Donald Trump’s desk Wednesday after passing the Senate and House with widespread bipartisan support.
The bill creates a system allowing law enforcement to use rapid DNA technology to help reduce evidence backlogs.
Unlike traditional DNA testing, which takes at least two days and requires processing at a laboratory, new and portable rapid DNA devices can give quick results anywhere in about 90 minutes
It would allow samples collected by rapid DNA devices in the field to be connected to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which refers to the software and national database that houses DNA profiles from federal, state and local forensic laboratories.
Under current law, police agencies can only use results from accredited labs, rather than rapid DNA analysis, to search for matches in the FBI database.
DNA is found in cells and provides a genetic blueprint unique to each person. Police typically get a DNA sample by swabbing the inside of a person’s mouth. That sample can then be compared against others in a database to see if a match occurs.
Even though DNA is among the most unique of individual identifiers, lengthy processing times and high costs have often made it a second choice for generating investigative leads in a criminal case or for verifying someone’s identity.
When Hatch visited the Utah State Crime Lab with Ed and Elizabeth Smart last month, they heard from Utah law enforcement officials how Rapid DNA will help them solve crimes more quickly and, in some cases, exonerate the innocent faster, according to a statement issued by Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Office.
Once signed, the bill will be Hatch’s 769th legislative proposal signed into law.
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