FDLE and Sheriffs Team Up on New DNA Evidence Pre-Screening Program

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is teaming up with four of Florida’s sheriff’s offices in an innovative new program to train sheriff’s personnel to pre-screen evidence collected at crime scenes for the presence of DNA. The federally-funded pilot program is the first of its kind in the country and is being delivered at the National Forensic Science and Technology Center in Largo, Fla. The purpose of the pilot is to enable the participating local agencies to pre-screen evidence for the presence of DNA, ensuring that items most likely to contain the substance are submitted to FDLE’s crime labs.

Selected personnel from Marion, Hillsborough, Seminole, and Santa Rosa sheriff’s offices are completing the training program in which class participants are receiving instruction on how to evaluate biological evidence for the possible presence of material suitable for DNA testing. The pilot is designed to minimize the number of submissions without evidentiary value that come in to FDLE crime labs and subsequently expedite the overall DNA analysis process. Additional law enforcement agencies plan to take the training in upcoming months.

“This is one of several proactive and progressive solutions FDLE is putting in place to tackle the growth in evidence submissions that we’re experiencing,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “We are pleased to partner with Sheriff Dean, Sheriff Gee, Sheriff Eslinger and Sheriff Hall on what is a collective priority – solving crimes quickly so that offenders are brought to justice.”

The DNA evidence pre-screening program is part of a multi-faceted plan implemented by FDLE in response to a surge in evidence submissions which resulted in backlogs statewide. FDLE has also purchased robotics for DNA sections across the state, developed new case acceptance guidelines, implemented more effective workload and staffing management practices, maximized overtime use, and outsourced DNA backlogs to other private, accredited labs. Twenty new scientists FDLE received from the Legislature in 2005 recently completed training and 10 of the scientists are assigned to DNA.

FDLE has one of the largest crime lab systems in the country and provides crime scene response as well as conducts analysis in eight forensic disciplines. Last fiscal year, FDLE scientists completed over 80,000 service requests containing more than 300,000 pieces of evidence. FDLE’s seven crime labs provide forensic analysis at no charge to Florida’s law enforcement agencies. The labs have been professionally accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, Laboratory Accreditation Board since 1990.

For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001