Skyrocketing number of DNA tests after change in law


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — A new DNA profiling law is adding thousands of new samples to the state's DNA database.

But is it helping to solve old crimes?

13 Investigates takes you to the Indiana Crime lab where the information coming in is out-pacing the intended results.

Johnny Galarza is facing three felony charges: attempted murder, strangulation and robbery for an attack inside the Marion County lockup.

Galarza hasn't gone to trial yet, but based on court records the State Police Crime lab is already running his DNA profile.

DNA evidence could be used in his case but evidence or not, a new state law now requires anyone arrested for a felony to give a buccal/cheek swab to see if their DNA matches any other crime in the DNA database in Indiana and nationwide.

Before January, only convicted felons had to submit DNA samples.

"The idea here is to be able to search those people in the database much sooner in the process," Kristine Crouch told 13 Investigates in December 2017. Crouch is in charge of the combined database system.

"The biggest thing that we were concerned about was would we be able to meet the needs, to be able to get them cataloged, get them entered and keep up with other duties.

In 2017, an average of 1,100 new DNA profiles were added every month to the combined FBI/State Police DNA database.

13 Investigates went back to the lab to see how many samples are coming in now.

According to Indiana State Police those in charge were too busy to talk about the massive swell the lab is facing.

That's because the workload has quadrupled!

"We still have that 1,100 coming in, but on top of that, with all of the people being arrested, not convicted but arrested, that's added about 3,100 additional per month," said Bursten.

From 1,100 samples to more than 4,200 DNA samples.

13 Investigates asked if ISP was surprised or even expecting four-times as many tests to the lab.

"It's been pressing, but they are meeting the demand," Bursten responded. "The question is: Is this the new normal? We're going to see 4,000-plus per month new samples that need to be analyzed."

Remember, DNA profiling is supposed to help solve more crimes.

With 12,000 new DNA profiles added since January, 13 Investigates wanted to know if any resulted in a match.

"We process them and provide the investigating agencies the information and they build the cases," responded Bursten, who said so far he's unaware of any specific cold case match.

13 Investigates reached out police departments across central Indiana. More than a dozen have not had any cases impacted but are hopeful the law will help solve more crimes.

With DNA samples now being taken after a felony arrest, ISP is expecting the number of convicted felons added to the list to gradually decrease as those older cases process through the court system.

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