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Saturday, December 10, 2022

‘Science is coming for you’: new forensic lab to focus on gun crimes

Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday that the city is opening a laboratory dedicated to the analysis and testing of gun crime evidence as part of its efforts to curb violence and prosecute shooters.

The City Medical Examiner’s office is in the process of hiring two dozen forensic scientists to staff its new DNA Gun Crime Unit, Adams and the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Jason Graham, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Adams said the “state-of-the-art” crime lab will aim to reduce the time it takes to test evidence in gun crime cases from 60 days to 30 days.


what you need to know

  • Mayor Eric Adams said the city is opening a laboratory dedicated to the analysis and testing of gun crime evidence as part of its efforts to curb violence and prosecute shooters.
  • The City Medical Examiner’s Office will hire 24 forensic scientists to staff the new “DNA Gun Crime Unit.”
  • Adams said the “state-of-the-art” crime lab will aim to reduce the time it takes to test evidence in gun crime cases from 60 days to 30 days.

“It’s going to cut it in half, so that we can prosecute cases faster and get dangerous people off our streets,” he said.

While the medical examiner’s office already has a forensic biology laboratory that focuses on the examination of criminal evidence, its scientists work on “a wide variety of cases,” Graham said, including sexual assaults, homicides and robberies. .

He explained that the new unit, set to be “the first of its kind in the country”, will focus “specifically” on gun crimes, allowing for faster turnaround times.

“The quick results will help the criminal justice system resolve cases as quickly as possible,” he said. “These proceedings may result in the acquittal of an innocent person, or the conviction of a guilty one.”

Graham said OCME already plans to bring 10 of the 24 forensic scientists on board, with the remaining 14 positions set to be filled.

He said the unit should be operational “within a year”, leaving time for training.

The idea of ​​the $2.5 million initiative dates back to Adams’ transition period, the mayor said, when his deputy mayor for public safety, Philip Banks, “discovered that many cases with bottlenecks in the court system could be treated with DNA testing.” Had to do. .”

“We immediately said, ‘Let’s allocate the money,’ because we can’t allow these cases to remain open, because in some cases of guns, [district attorneys] Will not proceed without DNA testing,” Adams said. “So we’re letting these dangerous people out on the street, and so our goal was to say, ‘Let’s get this tested.

While advocates have long raised concerns about the accuracy of DNA testing, the legality of collecting DNA and its use in prosecuting crimes, the mayor said all tests would be conducted “in strict compliance with the laws”.

“We’re not going to violate any laws and any rules, but we want to use science as much as possible,” he said.

Adams’ announcement comes amid his administration’s ongoing efforts to crack down on gun violence in five boroughs – and comes a day after a 20-year-old woman was fatally shot as she took her child to a school on the Upper East Side. was pushed into the stroller.

On Wednesday, Mayer said his administration had filed suit against five online retailers for illegally selling “ghost gun” parts.

Adams on Thursday described the new crime lab as “another arm of law enforcement.”

“That’s how we strengthen public safety and how we fight gun violence,” he said. “We’re saying to those who have committed gun crimes: Science is coming for you, and we’re going to use this science to get you off our road.”

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