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Old 05-26-2007, 08:21 PM   #1
Juno Styles
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Default DNA results? How long does it take police?

Can police get DNA results back faster than civilians/private companies?

i know for paternity tests it usually takes about 3 to 5 days at the fastest, but i have a character who has a different situation.

my character is trying to find out the identity of a person and all she has is the person's toothbrush.

is that enough for police to use to identify someone's identity?

can they even identify someone with from their toothbrush if the person doesnt have a criminal record?
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Old 05-26-2007, 10:20 PM   #2
Pull Back Reveal
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Default Re: DNA results? How long does it take police?

There are lots of reasons someone might have DNA on file -- and, in fact, most with criminal records don't, although there's a push to take DNA samples from all the crooks in New York -- and that could be a satisfying twist in your story, explaining how they happened to match the DNA.

Paternity tests are fast compared to matching blind DNA samples, which can take up to a month even when there's heat on the case. If you have two samples and want to compare them, that can be done in a mater of days if you can get to the front of the line. But identifying an unknown sample takes a lot longer.

You could get some gum cells or blood cells from the toothbrush for DNA analysis. It's not ideal. Your best bathroom utensil would be a brush that included some hair pulled from the stranger's head -- has to include the hair follicle to get usable DNA. But a toothbrush might work.
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Old 05-27-2007, 04:12 AM   #3
Mac H.
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Default Re: DNA results? How long does it take police?

Police DNA matching takes a bizarelly long time.

Take this example:
Quote:
Det. Tony Ellis, who is no longer with the department, submitted semen found on the victim's mattress to the state Department of Justice three years ago.

Early last year, technicians linked the DNA profile to Pearse, a felon who had served six years in prison for killing Sandra Ann Neary of Costa Mesa in 1986, Schoen said.
Yep - it took about TWO YEARS to match.

The new cases are taking a over a month to process DNA - and that's not even including the time to match to database.

At least in California, the police have also been forced to limit the number of samples they submit for analysis, due to budget constraints. From memory, each district (or whatever) can only submit about four samples per month - the reality compared to CSI is rather depressing!

Another hitch is the little detail that the most effective way to destroy DNA is to expose it to UV light - that's one of the way the testing areas are 'disinfected' to avoid cross-contamination. So if a toothbrush is sitting in sunlight, any DNA is likely to be destroyed within a few days.

That's before you get to the detail of MATCHING the sample to someone without a sample to compare it to. In fiction, the investigators suddenly notice the person is a half-match to someone who does have a record - so could be a brother / sister / father / son etc.

But it's fiction - so all the nasty realities of life can be ignored....

Mac
(PS: Yes, private individuals can easily get faster service on DNA than the police. That's what's so upsetting to rape victims, who are told that their samples are still being processed a year later, only to find out that the tests on a high-profile case took less than a month - the police simply don't have the resources (or care enough) to do things quickly in THEIR case .. just in high-profile cases.)
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Old 05-27-2007, 11:41 AM   #4
Juno Styles
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Thumbs up Re: DNA results? How long does it take police?

ah thanks guys. nice tip about the sunlight destroying the DNA evidence.
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