On the day and exact time that members of the Branford Board of Police Commissioners were meeting to discuss the , a localized DNA testing system, a . Two were arrested in the incident.
Branford Police Detective William DeGoursey, who has been spearheading the research on LODIS, said that a suspect left blood at the crime scene – a perfect piece of DNA evidence. Having LODIS, he added, would have allowed the department to freely collect that evidence and enter the alleged offender’s DNA into the local database.
At last night’s Board of Police Commission Meeting, the group unanimously voted to accept LODIS and the $14,000 enrollment fee associated with the off-site private DNA processing service. After some debate, the group also accepted the $3,300 annual fee of the service as well as the annual price to process the DNA at $110 per sample at a minimum of 25 samples per month. They agreed with Commissioner Kurt Schwanfelder’s persistence, that the department could process as many as 50 samples per month. The cost of LODIS per year will be as much as $66,000 if used to its full potential or $33,000 if the minimum samples are processed.
DeGoursey said 50 samples per month would be easy to gather; the biggest issue with LODIS would be training the officers to use the system. Two months will be the ample training period for the department once the contract with LODIS begins, DeGoursey told the Commission last night. There has not been a firm date selected for the contract start.
Chair of the Board, Jon Grossman was concerned that the department needed to wait to see how many samples they might actually need to process per month once the practice of using the service was implimented. He was leaning more towards 25 samples per month but eventually agreed that as many as 50 samples per month would be acceptable if the collection was frquent enough.
In order for police to obtain DNA in most low-level crimes, the suspects must willingly offer it or any DNA left at the scene can legally be collected.
The money to cover LODIS will come out of the department’s forfeiture fund, which is currently more than $220,000. On average, Branford Police Chief Kevin Halloran said the department brings in $104,000 annually in forfeiture money. Though that pool of funds will sustain LODIS in the short term, Halloran said the ultimate goal is work the cost of the service into the annual budget – this is something he has already discussed as a possibility with town officials including the Finance Department.
Happy to see the use of LODIS passing the commission, Halloran said of the frequency of purchase, “However we do it I’ll just be delighted.”
After conferring with the Bensalem, PA Police Department who uses the DNA service, DeGoursey reported to the group that the LODIS system works best the deeper the pool of DNA evidence. The goal is to gather as many pieces of evidence to create a robust local database that offers multiple hits on cases when searched and leads to more arrests. Supporters of LODIS all agreed that the system will move Branford into the future of policing.
Without access to process local crime DNA as the state lab is inundated with more serious cases, LODIS will allow Branford Police Department to become the first in the state with access to such a database.