GM-Michigan State Police Project To Speed DNA Work

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A partnership between the Michigan State Police and General Motors Corp. is making it possible to more quickly track killers, rapists, and other criminals through DNA evidence, the Detroit News reports. Those tests take months, even years. The aim of the GM project is to reduce that time to 30 days. “Months ago I realized we weren't meeting expectations of the public or the law enforcement community,” said Capt. Mike Thomas, who heads the state police forensic science division. “It's difficult to justify to a victim any unnecessary delays in evidence submitted to labs for analysis. Some days around here were like a fire drill just trying to keep up.”

Federal grants and a fresh business approach by GM have enabled crime lab scientists to reduce a 10-year backlog to less than a year and make nearly 10 times the matches of known criminals to evidence left at crime scenes. The FBI has been so impressed that it committed $2 million to a similar program. Police pursued a GM system called value stream mapping to identify, assess, and solve workplace problems and meet goals. Michigan annually budgets $7.3 million to run three labs where 32 workers process DNA tests of past and current crime cases. But like other states, labs have been falling behind in analyzing and matching evidence with known criminals. Despite a $3 million federal grant, the backlog was not decreasing. The News had detailed how a backlog of 74,000 Michigan cases let a suspect in one rape roam free while police waited for the DNA evidence they needed to arrest him. During the eight-month wait, investigators said the man raped another woman twice before he was put behind bars. The woman said, “There's a lot of money rightly spent on cancer research and AIDS and a lot of other terrible things, but it is very important we give DNA all the attention it deserves. It can save people from being victims, like me. It can save lives.”

Link: http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0410/17/a01-306110.htm

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