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Louisiana Police are Using a DNA 'Lab in a Box' to Solve Crimes

Published: May 8th, 2023

NEW ORLEANS — When a pair of suspects fled a routine traffic stop and shot at a Baton Rouge-area police officer in 2020, DNA at the crime scene helped police quickly arrest one suspect.

But the other remained on the run, until he was arrested for another crime — possessing stolen goods — two years later. Using a “Rapid DNA” machine at booking, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office took a cheek swab and connected the person to the previous crime while he was in custody.

This was made possible by what detectives there call a “lab in a box.”

Rapid DNA programs are not new. Other law enforcement agencies have used similar machines. But Louisiana is the first state in the country to work with the FBI to integrate it into the booking process. The machine analyzes samples against the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database of DNA profiles.

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