Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
The Omaha Police Department (OPD) Cold Case Squad (CCS) will implement the proposed Omaha Prosecuting Cold Cases program by hiring additional part-time personnel to facilitate the re-testing of evidence and potential suspect DNA profiles utilizing new DNA analysis techniques; conduct subsequent follow up investigations; contract for forensic genetic genealogical DNA analysis (FGG) consistent with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Interim Policy on Forensic Genetic Genealogical DNA Analysis and Searching or final policy; and coordinate prosecutions of cold case homicides with the Douglas County Attorney’s Office.
The proposed Omaha Prosecuting Cold Cases program will address three (3) problems:
Problem #1: The need to re-test up to 200 potential suspect DNA profiles and associated elimination samples from 62 unsolved cold cases using advanced DNA analysis techniques to isolate more complete single source suspect DNA profiles for Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) entry, increased solvability, and enhanced chance for successful prosecution;
Problem #2: The need for forensic genetic genealogical DNA analysis (FGG) to identify suspects from profiles entered into CODIS that have not generated a hit associated with a known suspect in the database.
Problem #3: The need for additional investigative resources and prosecutorial coordination to ensure suspects are identified, arrested, and prosecuted.
Most potential suspect DNA profiles and associated elimination samples from cold case homicides investigated by OPD were identified through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) short tandem repeat (STR) DNA testing in only nine (9) loci prior to 2004 and 16 loci between 2004 and 2017. New DNA analysis techniques have emerged in recent years that enable laboratories to extract DNA information from 24 loci and conduct genealogical DNA analysis. OPD anticipates that the re-testing of evidentiary samples will make it more likely to extract complete single source suspect DNA profiles in at least eight (8) CODIS Core Loci and achieve the match rarity required by the National DNA Index System (NDIS) for forensic DNA profile submissions to CODIS.
OPD has identified four (4) goals and supporting objectives for the proposed Omaha Prosecuting Cold Cases using DNA program:
Goal #1: Enhance cold case homicide investigations and potential suspect DNA profile identification.
Goal #2: Increase evidentiary suspect DNA profiles submitted to CODIS.
Goal #3: Enhance cold case homicides prosecutions.
Goal #4: Ensure grant compliance.