The day the Connecticut state DNA lab scheduled to have a meeting regarding what submitted evidence was to be processed for DNA regarding the 2009 Dale Anderson T/A Travel Center homicide, the New Haven murder of Annie Le happened and Branford’s case was tabled. “They had to go – it was a very important case,” said Branford Police Detective William DeGoursey at a recent Board of Police Commissioners’ Meeting. “Our homicide got dropped down.”
are contending with large cities who have high crime rates, said DeGoursey when it comes to getting DNA evidence processed. They also are facing increased crime rates on a state level and more advanced technology to collect evidence, which produces a larger workload for the state. This competition with larger municipalities combined the shrinking state budget has made it increasingly harder for Branford Police to solve local crimes with DNA evidence. “When we are trying to investigate a , we can’t even submit our evidence,” stated DeGoursey, adding that the state is no longer accepting evidence from local agencies for misdemeanor crimes.
Captain Geoffrey Morgan of the Branford Police explains that waiting for any DNA to be processed by the state is risky for the police. “We have lost cases,” explained Morgan, because of a statue of limitations. Misdemeanors, like theft explained Morgan, have a one-year statute of limitations. In the past, that DNA would rarely be processed in a timely manner.
So Branford’s solution?
A localized DNA database called LODIS.
DeGoursey explains that LODIS, which will cost Branford $33,000 annually, will allow the department to have analysis of 25 samples per month at $110 per sample. The turnaround can be as quickly as a day, reported Morgan, and no longer than one month.
“LODIS makes it economical, efficient and affordable for small agencies to use state of the art technology,” explained Morgan.
Branford will be the first in the state to use LODIS if the commission decides to go forward with the purchase. Like their use of and other data-driven police tactics, Branford has been a leader. “With any cutting edge technology, and Branford is known for this, it usually takes an agency to make an investment in that technology,” commented Morgan.
Right now the hold-up from the commission is figuring out if other towns are interested in using the system and the logistics of it. If another town wants to submit samples for testing, Branford can send the sample to LODIS with their batch and charge the agency for the individual sample.
The main goal of utilizing LODIS is to reduce crime with the initial onset of the technology but also to create a local DNA database.
“Not only is it important to utilize DNA to solve crimes,” stated Morgan, “but we have to build a database of people.”
Currently the state DNA database does not tie into a local one for any towns; LODIS will change that creating a Branford or multi-town database; at the present LODIS does not tie into the state or national systems.
DeGoursey explained, in echoing ’s push for a predictive police force, “We are trying to focus on who’s giving us the most problems? We want to cocentrate on that small number and get it into a system that’s ours.”
In most cases, suspects have to agree to volunteer a DNA sample though state statute requires a sample be taken for all felony arrests. DNA can also be collected at the scene, police explain. The result of having a local database, police state, will help to reduce crime.
DeGoursey states as an example, the Palm Bay Police Department of Florida implemented the use of LODIS and saw a 16 percent clearance rate for burglaries rise to 33 percent clearance rate in one year of local DNA processing.
DeGoursey goes on to explain that a Sargeant from Bensalem, PA started using LODIS 18 months ago receive 124 “hits” or matches in their local DNA system. Thirty seven hits, DeGoursey reported, led to further criminal investigation. In comparison, when using the state DNA system, the Bensalem PD have five “hits” over the period of five years.
While the Commission tables the decision until next meeting, Halloran addressed the group last week stating of LODIS, “I am very much for going through with this. I think there are some concerns that have been brought up… I would like to see this implemented in a expeditious manner.”