Detective William DeGoursey told the Commissioners this Monday that the department will be making their first official -related arrest based on DNA evidence.
The strength of identifying this suspect as the offender of an alleged crime is one in 2.92 quintillion, DeGoursey said.
The department has been using LODIS, since the spring and now has 150 DNA samples in their database with 50 more due to come in in the next few weeks. Each month they send out up to 50 new samples for testing and are steadily building a profile of local potential criminals. On August 8, the department received notification that one of their samples matched the DNA profile of an alleged burglar.
DeGoursey explained that Branford Police arrested a suspect for an auto break-in on June 4. The suspect agreed to give a voluntary buccal swab to police. In July, Branford Police submitted that sample to the LODIS processing center. The suspect’s DNA matched that of DNA collected by Branford Police during an unrelated car break-in that occurred in April. The MO of the crimes were different, explained DeGoursey, so the DNA evidence was key in helping Branford Police potentially solve this crime.
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In April, just shortly after LODIS had been approved for department use, a car break-in occurred on Main Street where a window was broken and several thousand dollars worth of personal belongings was taken. Then Branford Police Officer who is now a lieutenant, noticed blood in the car and took a DNA sample. That sample was processed into the LODIS database where it was later matched with the voluntary sample given by the suspect.
Branford Police Commission approved the use of LODIS in November, 2011 to the tune of a maximum of $66,000 per year plus an enrollment fee and annual fees. On Monday Commission Chair Jon Grossman asked DeGoursey if the service was meeting his expectations to which he replied: “Yes, it’s done everything we thought it would do.”
LODIS is a local supplement to the state’s DNA processing system CODIS where all evidence from robberies, rapes and homicides are still processed. Branford Police sought the use of LODIS because of long wait-time for DNA processing at the state level (). The two databases, CODIS and LODIS, are not merged, said DeGoursey.
Branford is the first department in the state to use LODIS but they hope other departments will join, thus enriching their database of local criminals, both convicted and suspect. Right now Branford can process DNA for other towns for the $110-sample fee. However, they can only submit batches of 25 samples and do not always have the ability to send out samples for other towns. DeGoursey said the department is looking to receive reference samples from New Haven Police to “bolster the number of active criminals in the database.”
Police Chief Kevin Halloran said he supports a more regionalized method of data collecting and welcomes other towns to use LODIS. “We’re getting a lot smarter about how we do things [like] sharing information with other departments because we’re sharing criminals,” said Halloran. He also noted to the commission that Branford will be increasing their communication with other departments to maximize their chances of catching potential criminals.
Getting their first DNA match through LODIS within the first few months of using the system was a big win for Branford said DeGoursey. Compared to other larger departments in metropolitan areas, the results typically take longer to return a positive HIT, DeGoursey explained.
Unlike the state system CODIS, which does not have the capacity to process every sample taken by every town, LODIS is a growing database of local criminals, explained DeGoursey. “It focuses on who is doing crime right now in your local area.”