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Trump Signs Bipartisan Bill For Faster DNA Testing To Solve Crimes

WASHINGTON (CBS SF) – President Donald Trump has signed legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, that's aimed at helping law enforcement agencies perform real-time DNA testing to speed up justice.

Swalwell said traditional DNA analysis can take weeks, but rapid DNA analysis permits processing of samples in about 90 minutes or less.

He said the technology revolutionizes the way in which people who are arrested for crimes are enrolled in the criminal justice system, shortens the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes and speeds up innocent people's exoneration.

The Rapid DNA Act was introduced in January by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Swalwell. President Trump signed it on Friday.

Swalwell said the legislation will let local law enforcement agencies - under standards and guidelines established by the FBI - perform real-time DNA testing at the time of arrest within their own booking stations, comparing samples to profiles in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, which is known as CODIS.

"This law's enactment proves that, even in troubled political times, we can work together across the aisle to make Americans safer," Swalwell, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

"This new law will help law enforcement agencies across the nation use a more powerful tool to protect and serve our communities, to clear the innocent, and to attain justice for victims," he said.

The bill was supported by law enforcement organizations including the National Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major City Chiefs Association, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and National District Attorneys Association, as well as by the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, who used to be Swalwell's boss when he was a prosecutor in her office, said, "Rapid DNA technology provides an effective new way to identify or clear a suspect within 90 minutes instead of what now can take years."

O'Malley said, "Law enforcement agencies across the nation and the people they serve will be grateful for this bipartisan effort to make their work more efficient."

O'Malley said DNA is a critical forensic tool in solving sexual assaults as well as other serious crimes because many government crime labs are overburdened with work and don't have the capacity to process this vital forensic evidence in a timely manner.

She said that that problem has resulted in an estimated backlog of 400,000 to 500,000 sexual assault kits throughout the nation, leaving sexual assault crimes unsolved and violent criminals free to reoffend.

Swalwell said Pleasanton-based IntegenX Inc., which is located in his district, is a global market leader for Rapid DNA human identification.

IntegenX chief executive Robert Schueren said the legislation "marks a landmark day in more efficiently fighting crime and supporting law enforcement."

Schueren said, "We are grateful for District Attorney O'Malley's unwavering support of DNA testing being performed in a most streamlined and accurate manner."

© Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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