FBI Director James Comey this week praised a bill introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as a “very exciting” tool that will enable law enforcement officials to obtain results from DNA samples in criminal investigations.
The endorsement came during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Hatch is a former chairman and current member.
Th[e] authority that’s in your bill would help us change the world in a very, very exciting way. [It will] allow us, in booking stations around the country, if someone’s arrested, to know instantly — or near-instantly — whether that person is the rapist who’s been on the loose in a particular community before they’re released on bail and get away, or to clear somebody, to show that they’re not the person.
It’s very, very exciting. We are very grateful that we’re going to have the statutory authorization if that passes to connect those rapid DNA technologies to the national DNA database.
Hatch’s bill, the Rapid DNA Act of 2015, updates current law to allow DNA samples to be processed using Rapid DNA instruments located in booking stations and other approved locations. Rapid DNA instruments are self-contained, fully automated devices that can develop a reference sample profile from a minimally invasive cheek swab and compare the results against existing profiles in less than two hours. The Rapid DNA Act will enable law enforcement officials to more speedily obtain results to inform decisions about whether an individual in custody should be held or released. The bill further provides that Rapid DNA instruments must be operated in accordance with standards and procedures issued by the FBI in order to ensure the integrity of such instruments and the accuracy of results.
For the full transcript on Director Comey’s remarks, please click here.
For more information on the Rapid DNA Act of 2015, the need for such legislation, and what the bill does, please click here. For the text of the bill, please click here.