Human chromosomes, pictured here, contain genes, which can be tested to shed light on health and disease processes.
(Photo: National Cancer Institute via AP)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- DNA in crime investigations has been called the fingerprint of the 21st Century.
Florida is expanding its use of that fingerprint and as a result, police are tracking down some of the worst criminals across the state.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has compiled a database containing nearly one million DNA samples. That number will start to grow even faster soon.
Next month, Florida will start collecting DNA samples from people charged with felony burglary and theft.
Currently, state law requires those samples to be collected only when someone is convicted of felonies such as murder, assault, sexual battery and indecent exposure.
In October, Florida added the samples of 7,640 criminals to the DNA database. Those new samples turned up "hits" in 403 unsolved crimes and gave police new leads to pursue.
Florida's expansion of DNA collection starting in January is expected to add 100,000 new samples to the database each year. It's also expected to solve many more old crimes.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey told a Senate committee Thursday that DNA samples in the database are being linked to hundreds of old crimes every month.
"Last month we hit a high, a record, with 400 matches for the worst of the worst that matched the DNA database. We had already had an experience with those people, or they matched to an unknown profile in the database."
As DNA collections increase in Florida, so does the cost of the program. Bailey urged lawmakers to keep the momentum going on DNA analysis in crime investigations.
FDLE believes that adding people who've been arrested for burglary and theft to the DNA database will help prevent new crimes and also help solve old ones using the fingerprint of the 21st Century.
First Coast News