Feds grant AG Cooper request for more DNA help to fight crime
Release date: 9/20/2004
CHARLOTTE: More than $1.7 million in federal funds will help the SBI assist law enforcement solve violent crimes and put more criminals behind bars, Attorney General Roy Cooper and federal officials announced Monday.
The grants will allow the State Bureau of Investigation to analyze no-suspect rape kits for the presence of DNA, purchase much needed equipment to increase the SBI DNA testing capacity and efficiency and allow the state crime lab to convert existing rooms to DNA analyst workspace.
Cooper and the SBI asked the US Department of Justice for the funds to further North Carolina’s use of DNA evidence to solve criminal cases, including sexual assaults. The grants were made through the National Institutes of Justice as an effort to increase DNA technology and tackle a nationwide need for crime lab analysis. The SBI funds are part of a total of $2.8 million to North Carolina.
“North Carolina will be able to solve crimes more quickly with this addition help,” Cooper said. “We owe it to the victims and to our communities to give law enforcement full access to DNA technology to solve these cases and get criminals off the streets.”
Cooper has led the fight for more DNA experts to solve rapes, murders and other violent crimes. In 2000, North Carolina had only 6 SBI agents qualified to analyze DNA, but thanks to internal transfers and General Assembly help the SBI has more than tripled the number of DNA experts. Even with the new analysts, North Carolina’s DNA lab has fewer experts than neighboring Virginia, which has one million fewer residents than North Carolina but more than 40 DNA analysts.
More DNA analysts have allowed the SBI to begin clearing untested rape kits held by local law enforcement agencies across the state. Earlie this year, new DNA analysis of unsolved rape cases identified suspects in two rape cases in Greensboro and yielded leads in another case.
More federal help is needed to expand North Carolina’s database of convicted offenders, Cooper said. Last year at Cooper’s urging, the General Assembly made North Carolina the 29th state to include all felons in its convicted offender DNA database, giving detectives a greater field to search. Samples collected from felons since December 1 have been catalogued by the SBI and will be analyzed by a private lab as soon as federal funds from the NIJ Convicted Offender DNA Backlog Reduction Program is available.
“DNA is a powerful tool that can pinpoint a suspect and our success only increases as the database of criminals expands,” said Cooper. “With more lab experts and a growing database, we’re making a difference but we can’t stop now.”
NC Department of Justice � 9001 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-9001 � (919) 716-6400