Rapid DNA testing to solve more local crime coming soon

CHENEY, Wash. — The criminals in our community could soon be held accountable, sooner and more often.

The Department of Justice is giving Spokane County $480,000 for rapid DNA testing and that could mean more crimes solved, more quickly.

This grant will help law enforcement in Spokane County identify, arrest and prosecute criminals in both violent crimes and prolific property crimes.

Rapid DNA testing can allow officers who have evidence from a crime scene to assess whether there is DNA evidence that can tie an individual to a crime, within a matter of hours.

“Rapid DNA testing is a way you can have a cartridge and do DNA analysis all within around 90 minutes,” explained Anna Wilson, a DNA Supervisor for the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.

This means officers will be able to respond more quickly to property crimes in our community.

“Individuals who are committing property, drug, violent crime. There is often a lot of crossover. When we have more DNA evidence, there’s an ability to have concrete tools we can present in our investigations in order to bring people to justice,” Vanessa Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington explained.

Waldref tells us it’s also a very valuable tool in the prosecution stage. The DNA evidence can show the jury the individual was present, and also tying them to a location can more effectively prosecute crime.

“DNA evidence can be a really valuable tool to have plea deals move forward. If an individual involved in the crime knows their DNA evidence ties them to the scene, it’s less likely to be moving on to full fury trial,” added Waldref.

It takes a while for government funds to get to their final location, so it’s all still underway. They’re hoping to have this in the works in a matter of months.

The hope is that ultimately, rapid DNA testing is something that can be integrated into many forensic labs across the state.

RELATED: $480k grant awarded to Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Rapid DNA program