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Rapid DNA Tests Speed up Investigations for Connecticut Police

By: Ashad Hajela

Published: February 27th, 2024

In fall 2021, Farmington police officers were investigating reports of a man stealing car parts when things took a violent turn.

Dashboard camera recordings obtained by Connecticut Public show officers cornered a suspect in a residential neighborhood, boxing his vehicle into a cul-de-sac. But the man suddenly accelerated, striking an officer and leaving him seriously injured, according to court records.

The man got away on foot. But inside his vehicle, police say they recovered key pieces of evidence, which allowed them to quickly link a suspect to the crime.

Court records show an officer with the neighboring Plainville Police Department identified a man being investigated in another stolen car case, and thought he matched the description of the perpetrator in Farmington.

Officers then collected the suspect's DNA, and linked it to forensic evidence they gathered from a surgical mask, bandana and cigarette butt they found inside the vehicle in Farmington, court records show.

Conducting that kind of DNA test can often take weeks. But in Farmington, officers had access to a speedy new tool: rapid DNA tests.

Connecticut’s rapid DNA testing program was introduced in 2021 to help reduce turnaround time for forensic tests. Guy Vallaro is director of the Division of Scientific Services, which operates the state's forensics lab. He said traditional DNA analysis takes an average of 47 days to complete. But with rapid DNA testing, samples can be matched within just a few hours.

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