Continued from "Rapid DNA", on page 17
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAPLAIN
As seen in the Bensalem Public Safety example above, Rap- id DNA can have a big impact on property crimes. We all know that a small percentage of people commit a large percentage of the crime in our communities. Our communities depend on us to quickly identify and prosecute these criminals to get them off the streets so they do not continue to offend. Property crimes make up a large percentage of any jurisdiction’s overall crime. Crimes like auto theft, and thefts from autos, larceny and burglary are usually committed by habitual offenders. If we can catch the ha- bitual offenders, we can prevent future crimes. Yet, these crimes have traditionally had fewer resources devoted to them than more serious offenses like murder, rape and robbery. Crime labs have limited resources for DNA evidence processing. If the crime lab accepts property crime evidence it is given a low priority and often processed months after the crime occurred. Meanwhile, the habitual offender continues to offend, victimizing more citizens. Or, if he is apprehended for one crime, the police are unable to link him to the other crimes he likely committed. Rapid DNA, on the other hand, provides an efficient means to catch habitual offenders much earlier in their crime spree, preventing needless victimization of law-abiding citizens. Another important aspect of using Rapid DNA is the ability to eliminate or exonerate innocent suspects early in the inves- tigative stage. This prevents undue stress and hardship to the suspect while at the same time saving the investigative agency manpower and other resources. Many crimes have multiple sus- pects with only one true perpetrator. Eyewitness identification is notoriously unreliable, and DNA results can take months for a re- port including or excluding a suspect to come back. During this time an innocent person may have a cloud of suspicion hanging over his/her head. Even worse, that person may be incarcerated while the police and prosecutors wait for the results. Most importantly DNA evidence is nonbiased. In cases where biological evidence is probative the use of a rapid DNA test can save the police months of fruitless investigation and free the suspect from the cloud of suspicion or incarceration as the inves- tigation grinds on and the police wait for a state lab to process their evidence. If a suspect will simply volunteer a buccal swab, or, if the police have probable cause to obtain a search warrant, the police can compare DNA to the biological evidence recovered from the crime to exclude or include the person who left the evi- dence at the scene. In as little as 90 minutes an innocent person can be freed of suspicion or the true perpetrator identified with strong evidence of guilt. Since the widespread adoption of the Automatic Finger- print Identification System (AFIS) in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, departments have expanded the list of scenes they process for fingerprints from violent crimes to include property crimes. The AFIS system allowed departments to expand the type of individuals trained to process scenes. In addition to the dedicated crime scene technicians, other officers, including beat officers, are now being taught to process property crime scenes. Some agencies have expanded their property crime scene train- ing to include DNA evidence collection. EXPAND CRIME SCENE DNA COLLECTION- WE COLLECT FINGERPRINTS AT PROPERTY CRIMES – WHY NOT DNA?
The New Castle Police Department in Delaware, for example, has trained some of its officers as “Property Crime Specialists.” These officers were originally trained to process property crimes for fingerprints, but their role has now been expanded to include processing the scene for DNA. The DNA they recover from the scene is submitted for processing using Rapid DNA technology, and entered in the Department’s database. Officers are trained to look for blood or other bodily fluids and objects that might yield DNA, such as cigarette butts, which are one of the most frequently submitted items. The New Castle PD has found, like many agen- cies, that adding DNA collection to the Specialists’ repertoire isn’t difficult. In fact, the collection of DNA samples from a crime scene is easier than processing a scene for latent fingerprints. Departments without a Rapid DNA system have to send the DNA collected from the crime scene to their state or local crime lab to have it processed. Samples from property crimes are usually queued behind violent crimes, and it can take months to get results—months when offenders are at liberty to continue offending. Recent advances in technology allow departments to process their own DNA evidence. This includes both evidentiary samples recovered from the crime scene as well as identification samples obtained from suspects and arrestees. The department can obtain a profile in about 90 minutes and run a comparison against the database in another 2 minutes. That’s only 92 min- utes to solve a crime, a series of crimes, or to rule a suspect out. Law enforcement leaders have a responsibility to keep their communities safe, to not only arrest criminals but to prevent crime whenever possible. We have a duty to advocate for the equipment, policies, and legislation that increase public safety. Training officers to process crime scenes for DNA in addition to fingerprints, combined with Rapid DNA technology and a local DNA database for comparison to arrestee DNA profiles, will take serial offenders off the street sooner and reduce the number of citizens who become crime victims. While protecting the public is our first priority, we also must serve as good stewards of public resources. To that end, it should be noted that this combination of policy and technology can save money. The return on investment (ROI) realized by quickly eliminating suspects, obtaining guilty pleas rather than going through the cost of a trial, and using Rapid DNA technology to triage samples prior to sending them to a lab for analysis will significantly reduce the actual cost of the system. Finally, it is important to remember that DNA has the power to exonerate as well as to convict. People suspected of commit- ting a crime can be quickly exonerated and, if they are in custody, released. This can reduce litigation costs and demonstrate to the courts, as well as the public, that the department is serious about finding the truth and not just closing a case with an arrest. About the Authors: Chief Joey Reynolds (Retired), is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, FBINA 184 and is a Past National President of the FBINAA. He is currently the Business Development Manager for North America for Thermo Fisher Scientific. He can be reached at Joey.firstname.lastname@example.org. Inspector Tim Hardiman (NYPD Ret.) is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, FBINA 194. He is the owner of Viceroy Investigations & Consulting LLC. He can be reached at email@example.com
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W hen I first started to write articles as the National Chap- lain, it started a journey of exploring a spiritual walk based on five concepts. Solitude, Scripture, Service, Support and Significant Events. I hope some of you have enjoyed the idea of solitude, scripture, and service. Perhaps it is coincidental that I am getting to the concept of support at point in time because the year of 2020 is a shining example of why support is so important in our lives. Our entire world is still swirling from COVID and it appears that uncertainty will be with us well into 2021. As I write this article, terrible pro- tests and election rhetoric are still a daily occurrence. As cases of COVID and incidents of violent protest increased, so did suicides, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, police resignations, and uncertainty. Police officers need to do two things. First, surround yourself with people who support you but just as importantly support others in trouble. This must be done deliberately, and immediately if we want to stop the sense of despair creeping into the lives of many people today. Unfortunately, in my experience police officers do not do either of these things well. One thing that always struck me in police departments is the hesitation many officers have to confront coworkers when they see something improper or wrong. Perhaps it is because we may need to rely on that person in the next couple of moments to back us up, or it is indeed some kind of blue wall we all hide behind, but I have noticed many times that police officers don’t seem to confront other police officers very willingly. Conversely, it appears we do not support each other very well when one of us gets into serious trouble, or is obviously having issued in their lives. I have noted many times that when police officers hear that another officer may be fired for some serious stuff, it seems like outside of the elected union officers, many of their peers are not very willing to support him. They are busy quickly dispersing his uniform or equipment or seeing if they can move into his locker or get his vehicle assignment. I have been hesitant myself to support an officer who clearly drove over the curb of proper behavior. It took me too long to understand that supporting someone in trouble is not the same as condoning what he or she did. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person”. Think for just a moment on the grace that has been provided to each one of us by Christ. Are any of us really deserving of that grace? I have had the unfortunate need to fire a number of police of- fices in my career as a police chief. From officers dealing drugs to having sex with police explorers, to criminal convictions. In every case, I saw a complete waste of potential walking out the door. That does not mean that I hesitated to do my job as a chief. These
people did not deserve to wear a badge, but I did come to realize that my faith required me to do it with compassion and grace. In more than a few cases, I have had discharged people approach me years later to tell me that it was the best thing that happened to them. It was the wakeup call they needed in their life. Their lives got back on track, their marriage got back on track, or their spiritual life got back on track. Galatians 6:2 clearly says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Just when a person we may have worked with for years is going through the worst days of his life, we have a tendency in police work to abandon them. It is as if we are concerned that the stench of whatever wrongdoing they did is going to get on us. Do we really believe that showing Christian love to another person is going to be rewarded with evil? Christian faith clearly tells us differently Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest... you will find rest for your souls.” One of the most important things we can do for others around us experiencing trouble in their life is to point them to this reality. If Jesus can turn to a lifelong criminal while on the cross and say, “today you will be with me in paradise”, he can certainly be a comfort to a person who made some bad decisions and is experiencing the consequences of those decisions. It is not only our duty as follow officers but it is also our responsibility as Christians to express this kind of support. The Apostle Paul puts it the best in Galatians 6:3, “If you think you are too important to help someone you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” MSG The year 2020 has shown us the deep and genuine need for support in our police agencies. Let us all commit to stepping up our game.
Until next time, and always feel free to write or call.
Jeff Kruithoff, National Chaplain firstname.lastname@example.org | 937.545.0227
For Forensics, Human Identification and Paternity/Kinship only. Not for use in diagnostic or therapeutic applications.
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