Forensic DNA

Forensic DNA analysis is a tool used by law enforcement to help in the fight against crime. DNA testing has become a significant part of criminal investigations. Crime Scene personnel have been trained to collect items that may contain DNA left behind by perpetrators of criminal acts. The fact that DNA analysis methods have become more sensitive means that more and more cases are being sent for DNA Analysis. This has led to extensive backlogs in DNA testing at crime laboratories throughout the country.

Prior to 2007, St. Tammany Parish DNA cases languished at the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, which worked to decrease the backlog of cases from their own service area. It was not unheard of to have a DNA case wait in backlog for two years before processing began and another six to eight months before the results of DNA analysis was reported to the submitting law enforcement agency. Their efforts to diminish their backlog reduced their ability to perform DNA analysis on non-violent crimes including property crimes. In 2007, St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office Forensic DNA Laboratory began accepting cases from all parish law enforcement agencies. The number of unworked cases transferred from Louisiana State Police Crime Lab to the Forensic DNA Laboratory in St. Tammany caused a tremendous backlog here in the parish from the start.

Over the past 12 years the Forensic DNA Laboratory has strived to not only keep up with the ever-changing technology of DNA but to streamline processes, reduce the backlog and cut costs wherever possible. The increase in DNA testing sensitivity has brought about an increase in request for analysis. We continue to provide access to DNA analysis on all St. Tammany Parish cases submitted to our laboratory from homicides, sexual assaults, armed robbery, property crimes and other non-violent felonies.

Across the country DNA Analysts are regarded as expert witnesses that when requested give testimony in courts of law. Erroneously, it is often implied that we are employees of the law enforcement agencies so therefore reports are written to favor the prosecution in criminal cases. This is a misconception,  as expert witnesses our loyalties are to the evidence first and foremost. DNA Analysts and Technicians are the voice of the evidence and only present the information provided by our analysis. By doing this we not only help fight crime but also prevent miscarriages of justice. Being part of a non-biased agency, it reassures the public that our testimony is non-biased, and fact based and can be trusted.