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NYPD - Prosecuting Cold Cases

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $533,200)

The New York City Police Department’s (NYPD’s) Forensic Investigations Unit is seeking funding to establish a Forensic Genetic Genealogy Unit (FGG Unit) with the goal of resolving violent crime cold cases, specifically Homicides and Sexual Assaults by leveraging the putative perpetrator’s DNA. Forensic Genetic Genealogy will be used to identify and potentially arrest the perpetrator, prosecute more violent crime cold cases, and increase the overall quality of criminal justice in New York City. Nationwide, the cold case crisis continues to grow at an alarmingly rapid pace as case resolution and clearance rates continue to fall. New York City is estimated to have 25,876 unsolved homicides dating back to 1965. To help address this issue, the Forensic Investigations Unit began using Forensic Genetic Genealogy in 2021. Currently, four uniformed members of the service and two civilians are assigned to these investigations in a part-time capacity. Despite budgetary constraints and limited resources, Forensic Genetic Genealogy has been applied to seventeen cases and positive leads, with confirmed identities, have been generated in four cases, with an anticipated increased clearance rate in the future. The “BJA FY2023 Prosecuting Cold Cases Using DNA” program award would allow the Forensic Investigations Unit to establish a FGG Unit and increase the use of Forensic Genetic Genealogy that will enhance interagency cooperation through data sharing and improved relationships with partner agencies including New York City’s District Attorney’s Offices, New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, outside laboratories and federal agencies; dedicate staffing to target cold case homicides and sexual assaults where DNA from a suspect has been identified; bring as many cases as possible up to current investigative standards using DNA and Forensic Genetic Genealogy in the hopes of identifying suspects thereby leading to the successful closure of cold cases; enter all “criteria cases” and non-DNA evidentiary information into appropriate ViCAP, NamUs and other databases to increase the chances of identifying and apprehending violent offenders who pose a threat to public safety. Crime victims, their families, their communities and the nearly nine million residents of New York City will benefit from the creation of the FGG Unit. If funded, the Forensic Investigations Unit expects to submit thirty-five violent crime cold cases for Forensic Genetic Genealogy and action any investigative leads developed through genealogical research to identify the perpetrator and assist investigators and prosecutors in the arrest and prosecution of each of the thirty-five cases.

Date Created: September 14, 2023