MINNEAPOLIS-- Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says violent crime is down 29 percent county-wide over the past 3 years.
He expects it to drop even more, now that the county's revamped crime lab is up and running. Last fall, Hennepin County received a 1.1 million dollar federal stimulus grant and announced that they would use the money to upgrade DNA processing technology and capacity.
On Thursday morning, Stanek met with the media for a tour of the remodeled facility and an explanation of how DNA services have improved. He says the number of trained technicians has almost doubled, and that the goal is to increase DNA processing capacity by 40 percent and cut the wait time for results in half.
"Most law enforcement agencies nationwide continue to run DNA on only the most serious violent crimes," explained Stanek. "The (Hennepin County) Sheriff's Office Crime Lab also uses DNA for property crime investigations because we know that when we reduce property crime in our community, it leads to a reduction in violent crime as well."
The Sheriff's Office Crime Lab currently provides forensic services to 32 suburban law enforcement agencies in Hennepin County and other agencies. An increasing number of those police departments in suburban communities are requesting DNA analysis to help solve property crimes-- such as burglary, theft, and damage to property.
"DNA testing in and of itself is the most significant breakthrough in crime fighting technology in the past decade," the sheriff insisted.
Stanek says more than 3 thousand crime scenes each year are analyzed for DNA, and he expects that number will increase as well.
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