DPS move will slow crime, save money

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DNA center will be taken over by Department of Public Safety

By Carol A. Clark

The Department of Public Safety Forensic Laboratory will assume control of the State DNA Administrative Center starting in October — a move  that will trim weeks when inputting felon DNA information into the statewide database and save about $400,000 a year, according to the DPS.

Today it takes six to eight weeks for this DNA information to be entered into the database for law enforcement use.

DPS estimates it will take about two weeks once the Northern Forensic Laboratory assumes responsibility.

“This will be excellent,” Los Alamos Police Capt. Randy Foster said. “A couple of things we run into are repeat offenders so this would give about a month less time for them to go out and commit another crime, also, a lot of suspects are released in a short period of time and this would give us more opportunity to ID them while they’re still in jail. We really hope they do improve the efficiency of the DNA database.”

The Albuquerque Police Department crime lab has had the responsibility to process DNA and enter the information into the New Mexico DNA Identification System. This database is comprised of convicted offenders and felon arrestees.

DNA is collected from those arrested as they are booked into jail and from probation and parole offices, according to DPS.

Samples are currently being sent out of state to be processed, which accounts for the longer time and additional cost. DPS will complete the DNA analysis in the laboratory in Santa Fe, which will not impact other DNA case work at the lab in Santa Fe, according to DPS.

Los Alamos Police Det. Sgt. Fred Rascon said that identifying suspects early in the investigation is of utmost importance.

“The sooner we can confirm IDs the quicker we can move cases along,” Rascon said.  

DPS intends to take over the responsibilities for the DNA database  Oct. 6 and is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to complete this transfer.