Virginia Crime Commission Considers Use Of Familial DNA
The Virginia Crime Commission heard presentations on the benefits of familial DNA searches, a controversial process that could speed up police investigations and solve cases that have remained open for years. Craig Carper reports.
The practice, which some say is an invasion of privacy, would allow police to take an unidentified DNA sample and match it with their database to find a blood relative, which they can use to pinpoint a suspect.
So far, the technology is only being used in California and Colorado and has been banned in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Democratic Senator Janet Howell of Fairfax is the Chairperson of the Crime Commission. She says she believes the Commission is interested in pursuing the technology, but that they still need to work out the details.
Howell: We don’t need a bill; our current statute covers it, permits it, the question is more funding it. Because it’s not cheap, unless you consider the alternative, which is police officers and other law enforcement following one lead after another going nowhere, that’s pretty costly too.
The Department of Forensic Science estimates that implementing and maintaining the technology would cost $165,000 annually. Howell says she's optimistic that the legislature can find a way to allocate the funds during the General Assembly session in January. Should the proposal gain approval, it would go into effect in July of next year.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square