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Chat Archives

   DNA Evidence and Property Crime
February 27, 2009

February 27, 2009

This online event was moderated by Katharine Browning, Ph.D., Senior Social Science Analyst, National Institute of Justice. The panel (bios) included:

  • John Roman, Ph.D. (slides) - Researcher, Urban Institute
  • Mitch Morrissey (slides) - District Attorney, Denver, Colorado
  • Greg Matheson (slides) - Director, Los Angeles Police Department Criminalistics Laboratory
  • Philip Stanford (slides) - Detective, Denver Police Department

Recording - View the multimedia recording of this event.

Resources - Links to resources related to this event.

*     *     *

DNA evidence is an increasingly powerful tool for solving crimes. Law enforcement officials have used DNA to solve violent crimes for years, but now research reveals that collecting DNA in property crimes, such as burglaries, is cost-effective and dramatically increases the number of suspects identified.

The cost of performing DNA analysis is decreasing, the amount of data in state and national DNA databases is increasing, and many DNA databases are now including the DNA profiles of all convicted (both violent and nonviolent) felons. Researchers have found that many property offenders do not limit their activities to crimes against property and may commit other offenses, including violent crimes and drug deals.

The DNA Field Experiment was a collaboration between NIJ and local law enforcement agencies --- police, crime labs and prosecutors --- in five communities: Los Angeles, Topeka, Denver, Phoenix and Orange County (California).

This event examined the experiences of the cities collecting DNA evidence from property crimes, and discussed how other cities can determine if such procedures are right for them.  The panel shared stragtegies for building partnerships among police, crime labs and prosecutors, and addressed other challenges a city may face as part of this endeavor.

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