Faster crime processing

DNA testing device available in crime lab
THE PROCESSING of crime evidence based on organic material or DNA will be hastened as a multi-million peso genetic analyzer will soon be installed in Davao region.

This will cut police spending in the submission of evidence for testing from the regions to its headquarters in Metro Manila.

Currently, investigators have to physically bring with them the evidence to Camp Crame for the needed genetic analysis.

Yesterday morning, the Philippine National Police (PNP) conducted a dry run of the genetic analyzer at the police regional Crime Laboratory in Ecoland.

Crime Lab officer Chief Insp. Sheila Marie Angustia, in an interview, said the installation of the genetic analyzer, one each in Davao and Cebu, is part of the plan to decentralize the process and avoid the resulting backlogs and bottlenecks, especially in solving of crimes.

“Kung ano ang nasa Crame, meron din dapat sa ibang areas,” said Angustia of the Crime Lab central office in Metro Manila.

The two analyzers, along with the system that interconnects with data from police headquarters, are worth around P98 million.

The Davao set will be used for evidence testing for crimes that happened in Mindanao while Cebu will cater to the needs of the Visayas.

The national office of the Crime Lab in Camp Crame is receiving at least 40 cases of DNA sampling from each of the 18 regions per month. Apart from this, the government is also spending hefty fare for the police investigator from the province to bring the evidence to Manila. Thus there is basically a delay in the processing of the evidence.

With the distribution of the equipment to the two regions, investigators need only to submit the samples to their respective island regions.

Currently, police investigators have to wait for “months’ to get the result due to high volume of cases brought to Manila.

But with the new equipment, the processing time for DNA evidence, such as those from blood, bones, semen, hair, and fingernails, among others, will cut to “only” 30 working days.

Chief Insp. Lorna Santos, also from the Crime Lab in Camp Crame, said the 30-day period is already fast in terms of processing time.

Santos added that while there is a real-life counterpart of the hour-long DNA processing, the Philippines does not have that capability yet.

“Evidence cannot be processed after one TV episode in real life,” Santos said.

The device uses a process that allows DNA to be separated, tagged, and compared with a police database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

The machine allows police to process hundreds of DNA samples at a time.

Police will officially turn over the device to the Crime Lab in the region once its building which is currently under construction will be completed within the year.

The one for Cebu will also follow.