Session

Connecticut’s Implementation of a Rapid DNA Program for Law Enforcement Agencies

Wednesday November 2nd, 2022 // 11:40 am - 12:10 pm // Woodrow Wilson Ballroom

The CT Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) Division of Scientific Services (DSS) Forensic Laboratory has successfully established a Rapid DNA Law Enforcement program for crime scene samples. Rapid DNA technology delivers lab-quality DNA profiles and database matches in ninety (90) minutes, as opposed to weeks or months when submitted to the laboratory for conventional DNA testing. The 24/7 access to prompt DNA testing, is an invaluable tool as it provides real-time investigative leads for major crimes.

 

The CT DESPP Division of Scientific Services Rapid DNA Law Enforcement Program trains officers to become operators of the Rapid DNA instrument. Trained officers run suspected single source evidence samples from crime scenes on the instrument to generate DNA profiles. When the run is completed, the profile, if acceptable, will be uploaded to a standalone database which searches the unknown DNA profile against a copy of the CT State Convicted Offender profiles. From that search, an investigative lead may be developed.

 

The validation goal was to implement a Rapid DNA program in accordance with Quality Assurance Standards for DNA Testing Laboratories (effective July 1, 2020). Although not encompassed within laboratory accreditation or CODIS usage, DSS validated the system under all applicable standards. Although mainly utilized by trained law enforcement officers, DSS maintains instrument and database oversight. A modified rapid analysis approach ensures a qualified DNA analyst reviews data for every sample.

 

Original validation studies of blood and cigarette butt filter paper showed expected results of full single source profiles. Other types of substrates have since been successful with this program.

 

Based on results developed after one year of implementing this program, it was concluded that samples other than body fluids may generate useable results. Touch and wearer DNA are common sample types used in the CT Rapid Program; however, it is emphasized that conventional testing confirmation is necessary. Consideration must be given to whether there will be sufficient DNA for both rapid and conventional testing.

 

Since the program’s inception in July 2021, the Division has trained over two hundred (200+) law enforcement personnel, representing about one-third of the state’s various State and Local Police Agencies. Multiple other agencies are scheduled to be trained by the end of the year.

 

There have been 30 investigative leads generated from 170 crime scene evidence samples. There are two Rapid Instruments in the State available 24/7; one is at the DSS laboratory and the other is in the Waterbury CT Police Department. Connecticut’s vision is to expand the program with the strategic placement of additional Rapid DNA technology, to include a Mobile Forensic Crime Scene Van.

 

Speakers

Cheryl Carreiro

Assistant Director of Forensic Science Laboratory, DNA Technical Leader, Connecticut

Cheryl has been at the CT Forensic Laboratory for 15 years. Prior to working at the lab, she worked at a DNA sequencing company which manufactured one of the first-generation DNA sequencing instruments using pyrosequencing which, at that time, was an innovative methodology.

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Sevasti Papakanakis

Assistant Director of Forensic Biology and DNA, Connecticut Division of Scientific Services

Sevasti is currently the Assistant Director of Forensic Biology & DNA at the Connecticut Division of Scientific Services (DSS), where she has worked since 2014. With over 10 years of serological and DNA casework experience, Sevasti oversees the Unit’s day-to-day casework operations.

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