While the collection of DNA evidence from property crimes by law enforcement may be rare in most of the United States, rarer still is the processing of this evidence by a forensic DNA laboratory. Laboratory backlogs and a general lack of funding and resources all play in to the myriad of reasons why property crime analysis is not a top priority for all DNA laboratories. Enabled by grant funding, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Biology Unit (FBU) began outsourcing no-suspect property crime DNA evidence to a vendor laboratory in 2003. As a result of that funding, and in combination with other laboratories performing similar analysis, the U.S. Department of Justice published a 2004 In Short titled ‘DNA in “Minor” Crimes Yields Major Benefits in Public Safety.” Beginning with those no suspect cases and eventually evolving to outsourcing all property crimes in Palm Beach County, the FBU has undergone an evolution in the way property crime cases are handled and successfully processed for DNA, aiding investigations across the county.
The presenters will give a brief background on the reasons the analysis of evidence from property crimes is important, a historical perspective of the FBU’s experiences with outsourcing and the current state of the outsourcing program, including the importance of the DNA database (CODIS). Lastly, the presenters will share the results of a recent study that examined data trends that supported a revision to the FBU’s policy on the types of evidentiary samples that may submitted from property crimes for DNA analysis.
- Julie Sikorsky is the manager of the Forensic Biology Unit at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in West Palm Beach, Florida where she had been a Senior Forensic Scientist since 2002.
- Tara Sessa is the Local CODIS Administrator for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Biology Unit.
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