With Rapid DNA machines, genetic fingerprinting could become as routine as the old-fashioned kind. But forensic experts see a potential for misuse.
BENSALEM, Pa. — They call it the “magic box.” Its trick is speedy, nearly automated processing of DNA.
“It’s groundbreaking to have it in the police department,” said Detective Glenn Vandegrift of the Bensalem Police Department. “If we can do it, any department in the country can do it.”
The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived. In 2017, President Trump signed into law the Rapid DNA Act, which, starting this year, will enable approved police booking stations in several states to connect their Rapid DNA machines to Codis, the national DNA database. Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.
But already many legal experts and scientists are troubled by the way the technology is being used. As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting DNA not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also, increasingly, from people who are merely deemed suspicious, permanently linking their genetic identities to criminal databases.
Moreover, there is little agreement on which types of genetic material should be run through the device. Valuable genetic evidence is likely to be rendered useless if handled by nonexperts, critics say, and police officers risk being misled by the results of Rapid DNA analysis.
So the guys at Staples put an easy button on a DNA COLLECTION and PROCESSING device that may “mislead” “nonexperts” as to the results.
Yeah, I’m confident that won’t go horribly wrong!