June 30, 2022
Video available at: https://youtu.be/SzT3yTwJToU
Dedicated Team of Forensic Scientists at City’s DNA Crime Laboratory Will Accelerate Testing of Evidence to Bolster Fight Against Gun Violence
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Graham today announced the formation of the first-ever gun crimes unit at a public DNA crime laboratory in the country. The Office of the City Medical Examiner (OCME) DNA Gun Crimes Unit will focus exclusively on the testing and analysis of evidence from gun crimes and accelerate testing turnaround times to 30 days or less to expedite the processing of gun crime cases in the criminal justice system — strengthening public safety and the city’s criminal justice system.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is central to our fight against gun violence in New York City, and so we must fight the gun violence crisis with every tool at our disposal. That includes timely and accurate DNA testing of gun crime evidence,” said Mayor Adams. “New York City already processes gun crimes testing faster than 90 percent of the jurisdictions in the nation, but the OCME DNA Gun Crimes Unit will use the power of science to bring those involved in gun crimes to justice faster and help the criminal justice system process cases more quickly. With this new team, New York City is leading the way to end gun violence and keep our communities safe.”
“For every New Yorker concerned about or touched by gun violence, today’s announcement demonstrates the city’s commitment to safety and justice,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “OCME’s specialized unit will help speed up law enforcement investigations. It will also provide individuals and families involved in a case with certainty that the city’s forensic laboratory is bringing every resource to bear to serve justice. Thank you to the OCME team, to our law enforcement partners, and to every person that chooses to serve in the DNA Gun Crimes Unit.”
“The DNA Gun Crimes Unit exemplifies the mission of OCME to leverage science in the service of justice and public safety,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Graham. “This specialized team will laser focus our forensic expertise to test evidence from gun crimes and rapidly deliver results for all communities affected by gun violence. Our testing turnaround times are already among the best in the nation, and this initiative will bring us to the next level.”
Funded by an investment of $2.5 million, the OCME DNA Gun Crimes Unit will hire and train 24 forensic scientists dedicated solely to the testing and analysis of evidence from gun crimes throughout the five boroughs. Within the next year, the specialized squad will ensure testing turnaround times of an unprecedented 30 days or less, as measured from when testing is requested by a district attorney to the distribution of the case report to the district attorney and the New York City Police Department. Funding will also support upgrades in laboratory management software, the purchase of new equipment, and supplies.
OCME operates the largest public DNA crime laboratory in North America, responsible for testing physical evidence from criminal cases within New York City. The lab tests approximately 50,000 items of evidence each year across all categories of crime. Testing turnaround times for gun crimes currently stand at 60 days or less, faster than 90 percent of the jurisdictions in the nation.
Managed and staffed by scientists in OCME’s Department of Forensic Biology, the city’s DNA laboratory serves the criminal justice system as an independent resource, with testing results used to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. The lab is accredited by the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and the New York State Forensic Laboratory Accreditation program.