A Study of the Efficiency of the Combined DNA Index System for the Oregon State Police




Brown, Allison A.


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Method of Procedure: This project, which was conducted at the Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory, entailed following up with CODIS hits. It involved examining cases that have been worked by forensic scientists and finding explanations as to how the cases are proceeding after NDA matches are made. Failures to follow up on a CODIS hit have become a national problem in forensic laboratories all over the country. The Oregon State Police find this a very important issue that must be resolved. Currently the Oregon State Police are getting a hit, an arrest and a conviction. The only problem with all of this is that it is hard to measure the efficiency of CODIS hits with just convictions. There are several ways the cases could have been resolved such as the victim did not want to pursue the case any further, the suspect was already incarcerated for another crime, the witnesses were hard to locate or the case was dropped because of a plea to other crimes. As part of my research I investigated each of the cases that have been worked to see if they were pursued any further after a hit to an individual. After researching these cases, it was my responsibility to put my findings into a format that made it easier for the state police to know how the cases were resolved. The information was collected using a variety of software programs. The reason that more then one computer program needed to be used in the project, is due to the fact that more of then not some of the information that should have been provided in a program was absent in one and present in another program. The California Department of Justice currently has a system that is available which allows its users to input data. In order to design such a system it was my responsibility to obtain the case information. Once this had been obtained it made it easier to combine the data into a table format so that the state police could see how each case was proceeding. Below is a table of exactly what information was obtained. Due to the confidentiality of the information, false names and false information will be used in all tables seen. Once the information for one thousand hits had been gathered it was placed into Microsoft Access so that a database could be created. Throughout the time that CODIS has been in place, crimes where DNA matches have been made but not pursued have shed light upon a common problem occurring everywhere in forensic laboratories. Dozens of cases have found matches between a suspect and a crime but there has been no pressure to pursue the case any further. In fact one unfortunate result has been multiple DNA matches of a suspect, with the suspect continuously making repeated offenses. Most of the offenses are nor pursued until the investigators realize there might be a link between the current crime and the past cases worked. Only then are the reports of the DNA matches reviewed and pursued further. In one Virginia case, this scenario occurred. A man by the name of William Orlando Smith followed a girl and raped her in the woods. Had the DNA match that the Virginia police made months earlier been pursued, the rape might have been prevented. This is not just one isolated event but a common occurrence seen in other states as well. Although this research for the Oregon State Police might not resolve a national issue, it will aid in preventing scenarios like the above from possibly occurring. By solving this problem and entering how cases are resolved into a database like Microsoft Access, it will make it easier for the investigators to process crimes. Even more important is the need for this information to be compared with other states. A study such as this will enable states to test the efficiency of CODIS.