ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) — The St. Louis County Police Department’s crime laboratory is rolling out new DNA technology software, enabling scientists to make more definitive DNA matches.
The software, STRmix, helps the crime lab interpret DNA profiles previously considered too complex or low quantity to interpret manually.
“With less inconclusive results that means there are more conclusive results, that means more leads given to our investigators and that means more convictions, so it’s definitely going to be a game changer in the DNA interpretations that come out of this laboratory,” said Justin Lautz, a forensic scientist at the crime lab.
The department secured the new software through competitive grant funding for the 2017 Forensic DNA Laboratory Efficiency Improvement and Capacity Enhancement Program Grant. The department implemented the software and began training analysts in December.
The software will bring more objectivity to the interpretation process, Lautz said, and remove much of the natural human subjectivity. Without it, scientists erred on the side of caution, often coming to a determination of “inconclusive.” Lautz hopes the software will produce more consistent results, resulting in more “conclusive” findings.
“Crime labs across the nation are constantly battling with trying to keep up with backlog,” he said. “That does not give us a lot of time for research and development. So it makes it a long process when you want to implement something in your laboratory. There’s always a balance act to working cases while trying to improve our systems and our workflows.”
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