Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $577,000)
Rapid Response DNA machines, used in health care and research settings to identify DNA samples, are portable and automated devices designed to rapidly analyze DNA samples. Originally designed to identify DNA from humans, animals, plants and bacteria for diagnostic purposes, the process quickly evolved into use in forensic work. Rapid response DNA machines can now be utilized by Law enforcement to create data bases by collecting DNA samples from alleged perpetrators who have been arrested and/or individuals Rapid currently incarcerated who have been convicted of crimes and from current crime scenes. The information, which can be generated within 90 minutes, is utilized to generate a digital profile of the DNA sequence This can then be stored in a database for current and/or future reference. The availability of this information to law enforcement individuals makes it possible for them to solve crimes in a more expeditious manner. Thus, improving both reliability and validity of forensic information used to prosecute suspected criminals or release the wrongfully incarcerated / accused. This further improves authorities’ ability to link multiple crimes to serial perpetrators thus reducing the number of unsolved cases and increase the exoneration of the innocent. It is anticipated that utilization of this devise will assist with the conviction of the guilty, thus increase law enforcement's clearance rates in jurisdictions that participate.
Cambria County's District Attorney’s Office seeks to acquire a Rapid Response DNA machine with this funding and partner, through formal invitation, with multiple surrounding counties to create a DNA Data Base. These Counties will include but not be limited to; Blair, Somerset, Indiana, Armstrong, Butler, Bedford, and Centre. We will collaborate our efforts in conjunction with Beaver County’s' District Attorney's office, providing support during training and practical application of programming with the sharing of equipment and processing as necessary. This reciprocity agreement will provide a platform for professional growth and assurance of availability throughout, at minimum, a 16-county geographical configuration. This DNA machine will be availed to all law enforcement jurisdictions within these counties and increase Law Enforcements ability to evaluate crime scenes not currently covered by crime labs; for example, property crimes. The utmost of care will be taken to ensure the proper training of those participating in this venture via ongoing training and supervision provided through the District Attorneys' Office. Concerns around privacy, the potential for misuse of DNA data or other errors in DNA analysis, and risks of false positives will be strictly guarded against by the District Attorney’s Office. Appropriate safeguards will be instituted to protect the rights of individuals and insure both reliability and validity of test results. Our ability to expeditiously exonerate the innocent and convict the guilty will greatly enhance public safety.
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