Addressing the DNA Forensic Backlog

Addressing the DNA Forensic Backlog



WHEREAS, in 1994 the Federal Government enacted the DNA Identification Act (42 U.S.C. ss14132(b)); and

WHEREAS, this act authorized the establishment of a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). CODIS includes the National DNA Index System (NDIS) which contains DNA profiles contributed by federal, state, and local participating laboratories; and

WHEREAS, the DNA act specifies the categories of data that may be maintained in NDIS (convicted offenders, arrestees, detainees, forensic casework, unidentified human remains, missing persons and relatives of missing persons); and

WHEREAS, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the federal government, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory and Puerto Rico recognize CODIS Labs who have exclusive access to upload DNA profiles into NDIS; and 

WHEREAS, there are over 17,000 law enforcement agencies, federal and state agencies that submit DNA to 261 CODIS Labs in the United States; and 

WHEREAS, as of May 2016, NDIS contained over 12,248,000 offender profiles, 2,363,000 arrestee profiles and 708,000 forensic profiles. These profiles have produced 332,000 hits and have assisted in more than 418,000 investigations; and 

WHEREAS, the use of DNA has become more prevalent among law enforcement agencies in the United States. Due to the numerous investigations of violent and non-violent offenses that have been aided by DNA analysis, many departments are collecting more evidence from crimes scenes than in years past; and 

WHEREAS, the collection of more DNA from persons and scenes, results in a higher submission rate of samples to the CODIS labs for processing; and 

WHEREAS, the majority of these CODIS labs have not been appropriated resources to keep pace with the increase demands for analysis. Therefore, the higher submission rate, combined with the lack of resources, creates a backlog of samples to be processed; and 

WHEREAS, law enforcement agencies, who do not use CODIS labs for analysis, often utilize accredited forensic laboratory service providers for their DNA processing. The costs of these analyses and other resource expenditures of the law enforcement agency are affected by these increased submissions in the same manner as for those that submit evidence to CODIS laboratories; and 

WHEREAS, in order to help solve the problem of the increasing submissions, better training needs to be conducted among the 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States; and 

WHEREAS, the 17,000 law enforcement agencies make up approximately 900,000 law enforcement officers in these departments; and 

WHEREAS, while efforts have been made to provide law enforcement with information about DNA evidence collection and submission, there is no standard training across the country for the collection of evidence containing potential biological material. Each department has a different training curriculum with varied levels of concentration on DNA collection. This lack of consistent training often leads to the collection and submission of samples that are of insufficient quality or quantity for analysis, or significant value to the investigation. This influx of "lower value" samples directly contributes to the increased backlog of items to be tested for DNA; and 

WHEREAS, forensic labs could receive a reduced number of samples, without affecting the proven success rate, if law enforcement focused on improving their collection and submission guidelines for evidence that may contain biological material; and now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED, that law enforcement agencies should collaborate with accredited forensic laboratory service providers to implement a comprehensive, standardized training program for the collection and submission of such evidence to forensic laboratories, with preference given to the submission of evidence that will generate DNA profiles that will be eligible for upload to CODIS; and, therefore, be it 

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the International Association of Chiefs of Police supports law enforcement leaders and their respective agencies by recommending standards for training in the proper collection and submission of evidence containing potential biological material to CODIS participating laboratories to significantly reduce the DNA backlog in the United States and effectively address crime in their communities.



Submitted by: the IACP Forensic Science, Police Investigative Operations, and Victims Services Committees

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