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NYC: The First DNA Gun Crimes Unit in America

by Harold Hempstead

In the beginning of July 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the City’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Graham announced at a press conference that NYC is opening the nation’s very first DNA “gun crimes unit at a public DNA crime laboratory.”

The two-and-a-half million dollars in funding for the new unit within the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (“OCME”) will be used for upgrades to laboratory management software, to purchase new equipment and other forensic supplies, and to hire 24 forensic scientists who will exclusively focus on testing and analyzing evidence from gun crimes with the goal of reducing the turnaround time for the analysis of evidence from 60 days to 30 days.

Ten of the 24 scientists have already been hired, and Graham said, “he intends to hire the remaining [10] by fall at the latest.” He also expects the OCME DNA Gun Crimes Unit to achieve 30-day turnarounds on the analysis of evidence from gun crimes by the fall of 2023.

More young adults and children under 19-years-of-age died from gun related injuries than automobile accidents in 2019. According to the CDC, in 2020, guns were the cause of more Americans dying than in any prior recorded year, and in 2021, the OCME lab processed 59% more gun cases than it did in 2020.

“We say to those committing gun crimes, ‘science is coming for you, and we’re going to use this science to get you off our street’ … and help the criminal justice system process cases more quickly,” Adams said. 


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