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Leon County now one of first in U.S. to receive new rapid DNA device

Posted at 6:16 PM, Feb 26, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — In an effort to curb crime, Leon County deputies along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement now have a new way to help solve crimes faster.

It's all thanks to the nation's first fully automated rapid DNA collection device.

Florida is one of five states the FBI is allowing to pilot the program. The DNA collection process will be used at the Leon County Detention Facility.

With the device, law enforcement can provide a DNA match for an unsolved case in a matter of hours instead of weeks.

"The new rapid DNA system is an innovation for investigations," said Shade McMillian, the public information officer for Leon County Sheriff's Office.

Shade McMillian said he is excited to introduce the nation's first automated rapid DNA collection device in the Capital City.

"DNA samples are taken at the detention facility," McMillian said. "Those samples are then put into an automated machine and the machine can now analyze that DNA on site and send the information to the FBI code data base, which is what we use for our DNA matching, and we can have results in two hours."

McMillian says it will allow his team to solve crimes faster and help keep the streets more safe.

"For us to be able to identify a suspect from these DNA samples, will then allows us to formulate charges for that person while they are still in custody," McMillian explained. "So we are not releasing them out when they are currently a possible suspect for another case."

It's a break through that Mark Perez, a Special Agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, says they've pushed for 10 years.

"It shows that we are one of the innovators with DNA," Perez said.

The special agent hopes to see this program develop across all 50 states.

"What this does is allows the FBI to learn the process itself and learn from what we are doing on the ground, and from that process will help standardize and create policies nationwide."

The device is effective right now. Other states using the rapid DNA collection device are California, Arizona, Louisiana, and Texas.