The times are changing. I remember when it took months hear from the lab regarding fingerprint submissions and blood typing (we didn’t have fancy DNA testing back in the day). Sure, I complained about the backlogs at the testing facilities. After all, we were arresting criminals left and right, and some had even served their time in jail and were back on the street before we received a positive fingerprint match from the experts. Now that’s slow! Unfortunately, it really happened.
But, there are new concerns these days, and not just with forensic labs. But let’s start there.
– According to CBS News, the FBI has a current backlog of 3,211 DNA cases waiting to be tested. That number doesn’t sound so awfully bad given the size and population of the country, however, it would take over two years to clear them. And that’s without adding any to the list during that period of time.
– 1,400, or more, of the 3,211 DNA cases waiting to be tested are missing persons cases, cases which are deemed low-priority when compared to murder and rape. Therefore, those cases have the longest wait time, meaning the chance of finding one of the 1,400 grows slimmer each day.
– State and department policies can, and do, interfere with DNA testing. In fact, in one case a state attorney general refused to test the DNA from one of her state’s prison inmates, a test that could have implicated the prisoner in a Florida homicide. Her reason for refusing to assist another state in their murder case? The governor of the state (now involved) says federal guidelines do not allow them to release that sort of information—a partial DNA match—to other states. Wait a minute! Isn’t CODIS a system run and maintained by the Feds?
Actually, there is an FBI bulletin relating to CODIS that specifically says it’s okay to share information. In fact, the bulletin encourages it. But, for now, the state of Michigan (the state in question) has refused to assist in catching a man who savagely beat, tortured, and stabbed a 76-year-old man to death. By the way, the killer used a fork to repeatedly stab the victim. And he used a bronze statue to obliterate the elderly man’s skull.
– On the other hand, the state of Maryland has great news to report. Since 2007 they’ve cleared a backlog of 24,000 samples, which resulted in 267 arrests—122 burglary and robbery cases, 16 murders, and over 100 sex-related offenses.
– The two Tybee Island, Ga. police officers who were accused of wrongfully using a Taser on an autistic teenager have been indicted. However, they were not indicted for the use of the Taser. Instead, they were indicted for lying and making false statements to investigators. The lies and charges all center around concealing the actions of a non-certified jailer who was present on the scene. The officers told a Georgia Bureau of Investigations agent that only they were present during the incident. It’s not clear as to what role the jailer played during the Tasering.
– A Wisconsin thief was nabbed recently thanks to a vacationing family’s digital camera. As the family posed in front of the state capital for a self-timed picture, a thief grabbed their bag and took off. The quick thinking photographer checked the image, and sure enough, the thief was clearly seen making off with the goods. Local police recognized the bandit and picked him up. He still had the bag with him at the time of his arrest.
Finally, thanks to Lt. Dave Swords for reporting this horrific crash on Hwy 675 near Beavercreek, Ohio. A state trooper’s dash cam captured the event as it unfolded. Oddly, the driver of the car had just been stopped by police and released.
The driver survived the crash!