“A huge investigative benefit:” DNA samples to be taken upon arrest in certain cases starting April 1st

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MADISON (WITI) — A swab inside the cheek of people arrested for certain crimes may be all it takes to solve another crime. Wisconsin law enforcement officials will begin collecting DNA samples from violent felony arrestees and all persons convicted of a crime (both misdemeanor and felonies) when a new law takes effect April 1st, 2015.

Currently, Wisconsin requires only convicted felons and sex offenders to provide DNA. Wisconsin will become the 29th state to collect DNA at arrest.

“There is a huge investigative benefit to taking DNA at arrest by solving crimes and preventing future victimizations,” Attorney General Brad Schimel said. “Serious crimes will be solved by matching suspects in our database to offenders, as well as eliminating innocent persons from law enforcement investigations. This will bring about quicker resolutions for the victims who have suffered serious effects at the hands of violent offenders.”

To prepare for the increase in DNA sample analysis, the Wisconsin Department of Justice expanded the State Crime Lab in Madison with 4,857 square feet of office space and 3,034 square feet of lab space, along with additional storage space.

Perhaps most important, eight new DNA analysts and eight new forensic program technicians were hired and they completed their training. The expanded space went “live” on March 20th.

The Crime Lab’s DNA data bank has assisted law enforcement in matching DNA left at crime scenes in 5,620 cases since 1998 using DNA collected solely from convicted offenders.

But the Crime Lab reports that 13,906 DNA profiles developed from crime scene evidence remain unidentified as the DNA data bank does not contain a matching offender profile that would permit identification of a potential suspect in these crimes.