In 2010, the Alaska Policy Forum published a report entitled “A Critical Review of the Crime Laboratory Replacement Project.” You can download the report and summary here. This report included information on how emerging DNA technology would enable the rapid testing of DNA samples in police stations and jails without the need for expensive laboratory space or highly trained forensic technicians. DNA testing could be done with a handheld analyzer by minimally trained law enforcement personnel.
The state crime lab’s forensic laboratory manager ridiculed our report and concluded that the technology described had “far more ‘CSI’ effect than real forensic value” and compared the newly emerging technology to “flying cars and jet packs.” Well, we may not have flying cars and jet packs but we do have on-site DNA testing.
Unfortunately, our report was ignored by policy makers and the result was that Alaska built an oversized and overpriced new crime lab nearly five times larger than the replaced facility. It is one of the largest and most expensive crime labs in the nation.
The DNA technology mentioned in our report is now being shipped in Europe by one company which will launch the system in the U.S. market in October of 2012. When fully implemented, this technology will render large portions of the new laboratory obsolete. We hate to say “We told you so” (but we did).
For a look at the “flying car/jet pack” DNA technology, go to:
“[The new technology] applies the same science used in crime labs today, but integrates what would take a trained specialist eight machines and eight steps to complete. The process is streamlined allowing DNA testing to take place at the point of action: police stations.”