A decade after shutting down its DNA unit amid backlogs and accusations of shoddy work and contamination, the Fort Worth Police Department is ready to resume DNA analysis, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Two forensic scientists will begin working cases Monday. With the training of three other scientists at least six months away, lab director Tom Stimpson hopes the police department can stop outsourcing most DNA testing within a year. The savings, he said, will be significant.
The department pays $250,000 a year to Orchid Cellmark, a Dallas-based company, for analyses. An in-house DNA unit will also save money for the entire police department, because a faster turnaround can mean quicker arrests, Stimson said. DNA analysis was suspended in 2002 after Tarrant County prosecutors decided to forgo seeking the death penalty in a capital murder case because of concerns about the work of one of the lab’s scientists. Prosecutors found that no one was wrongly convicted or accused because of flawed DNA analysis. The investigation did, however, reveal widespread problems in the serology and DNA units, as well as troubling practices in the chemistry and firearms sections.