New technology could drastically speed up DNA analysis - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New technology could drastically speed up DNA analysis


MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin law enforcement officials are closely watching new technology that might allow investigators to perform DNA analysis in as little as 90 minutes.

Post-Crescent Media reports the technology is still in the testing stages, but state officials say early indications are promising.

"There's some powerful stuff that's going on out there," said Brian O'Keefe, administrator of law enforcement services for the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

DNA testing in a lab setting can take several days or longer, depending on the urgency of the case. But the new test, called Rapid DNA, would be mobile, allowing investigators to do testing right at the scene. If a criminal commits a sexual assault, police might be able to find a match in a DNA database and launch an intensive search for a known suspect, O'Keefe said.

Wisconsin is waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice to decide whether to approve of the technology before it can be used in the state.

A Rapid DNA unit could cost as much as $250,000, but O'Keefe predicted the price would drop as the technology becomes more widely available.

Last week, Wisconsin lawmakers approved a law that will expand the state DNA database by requiring the collection of a DNA sample from anyone arrested for suspicion of having committed a felony. Previously, DNA collection was limited to convicted felons and sex offenders.


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