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Nation’s First Automated Rapid DNA Collection Pilot Program Rolls Out In Florida

Feb 27, 2020
Originally published on February 27, 2020 3:19 pm

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday the nation’s first fully automated Rapid DNA collection process is now being used at the Leon County Detention Facility.

The way it works is DNA is taken from a suspect and then electronically submitted and automatically searched in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to see if the DNA is connected to an unsolved crime anywhere in the nation.  Results are returned in under two hours. 

Florida is one of five states selected by the FBI to participate in the Rapid DNA project and the only one to use a fully automated process, according to FDLE.

“There is no question that DNA testing has made Florida safer, and the use of Rapid DNA will ensure suspects aren’t released from jail before DNA search results come back,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen in an email to WJCT News.

Leon County was picked for the pilot because Florida’s CODIS is located in Tallahassee. 

In 1990, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office became the first law enforcement agency in Florida to submit a blood sample from a convicted felon for DNA testing into Florida’s DNA Database.  

“We believe this scientific DNA matching tool will greatly enhance all law enforcement agencies in Leon County and across our state to more effectively and efficiently solve crimes and bring the perpetrators of crime to justice,” said Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil.

Florida law requires anyone arrested on a felony charge to provide a DNA sample. The requirement also applies to certain misdemeanor convictions.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

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