Lessons Learned from Implementing and Operating a 24/7/365 Rapid DNA Program Across the United States

Tuesday September 14th, 2021 // 11:10 am - 11:35 am // Fiesta Ballroom

Rapid DNA technology can provide investigators with real-time investigative information, enhance border security and public safety, aid in prevention and detection of human trafficking, and provide identifications in mass casualty events. While Rapid DNA was designed for operation by non-technical field personnel, it is important to be implemented properly with the complementary support of trained scientists. Utilizing a reachback team performing modified Rapid DNA analysis can increase success rates, minimize the need for recollection, and save significant time and money while providing reliable actionable intelligence to field forward personnel. This presentation will detail the processes undertaken to operate a unique, scalable, and comprehensive Rapid DNA program including field operations, logistics, training, staffing, privacy and data security, reachback, and impact stories through two plus years of operation.


Since early 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has encountered a migration crisis at the southern border, including an increase in fraudulent family relationship claims. To help address this, Bode Technology (Bode) developed, deployed, and operated a wide-ranging program for DHS to utilize Rapid DNA to identify and deter possible child trafficking by identifying fraudulent family units. This complex program encompassed the establishment of 15 separate field-forward and geographically separated Rapid DNA facilities that have processed over 7,000 DNA samples to date with greater than 94% first pass success rates. Additionally, Bode deployed scientists to support development of protocols and provide formal training and certification of operation to over 300 field operators. The first of its kind program relies on network of Rapid DNA instruments spaced out across the border in conjunction with Bode’s accredited laboratory which is staffed with personnel who provide 24/7/365 support. This Rapid DNA reachback center includes trained and Rapid DNA proficiency tested DNA analysts who review profiles that do not meet the built-in expert system requirements of the instruments. Reachback personnel then make expert determinations whether to pass or fail the samples that are flagged by the instrument’s software and provide feedback and instruction to the field personnel typically in under 15 minutes. In addition to providing modified Rapid DNA analysis, the reachback center also provides support in other areas such as training, establishing best practices and protocols, providing expert consultation, program management, and accredited confirmation testing when necessary. The program has been a resounding success resulting in hundreds of arrests for child trafficking and or smuggling as the results of DNA supported investigations.


Lessons learned from implementing and operating this highly successful program can help other accredited crime laboratories supporting Rapid DNA instruments at the state, local and federal level. Additionally, this program can serve as a roadmap for other agencies who wish to utilize Rapid DNA technology in a field forward setting for their mission sets. Bode’s goal in discussing this program with the community is to share best practices and considerations when implementing Rapid DNA programs in the future and to understand the critical role that the various components can play in the overall success of Rapid DNA programs.


Private: Dane Plaza

Director of Federal Operations, Bode Technology

Mr. Dane Plaza is the Director of Federal Operations at Bode Technology located in Lorton, Virginia.  Mr. Plaza is responsible for the technical oversight and program management of numerous federal forensic research and operations programs supporting various groups within the United States Government.   He is currently serving as the Program Manager for an operation that is providing services to a USG entity utilizing rapid DNA along the Southwest US border to identify and deter possible child trafficking.

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