In an effort to crack down on gun crime, the NYPD has started swabbing every gun it recovers for DNA. To handle the workload, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been staffing up, trying to add nearly 75 new scientists and support staff, New York Daily News.
Some legal and forensic experts said that DNA testing, while more sophisticated than ever, is not foolproof.
The science used to test small DNA samples isn't perfect, and critics note the results are not infallible.
"What we've seen in the last few years are real efforts to push the boundaries of DNA evidence," said Clinton Hughes, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of New York's DNA unit. "DNA does not necessarily mean that there's going to be a just result, or an accurate result in a particular case."
Some civil liberty groups have also raised concerns about the expansion of DNA collection by local law enforcement agencies.
DNA that is deemed "abandoned" — left on the rim of a soda can or the end of a cigarette, for example — can legally be picked up by police and entered into a local database. People whose genetic information is stored in the database are almost never aware of it, legal experts said.
Expanded DNA testing on guns is part of a larger effort New York is making to crack down on illegal firearms and gun violence. In January 2016, police formed a 200-officer gun-violence suppression division to focus on illegal firearms, shootings, and gangs. In Brooklyn, there are two courtrooms dedicated to expediting gun cases. Other boroughs are expected to follow suit.
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