Meticulous DNA Lifting ProtocolAug 29, 2012
By Joseph Goldstein
|In New York, the stage must be carefully set in police interview rooms like this one before surreptitiously collecting DNA evidence from suspects. Courtesy of Robert Stolarik for The New York Times|
It is a small bit of trickery masquerading as generosity: A suspect is offered a cigarette or a soft drink in a police interrogation room.
The ruse is a staple of television crime dramas. Detective so-and-so asks questions; the suspect does not cooperate, but unwittingly leaves damning DNA on a cigarette butt or a soda can. Cue the handcuffs. Roll the credits.
But in the detective squad rooms of New York City, the procedure is far from that simple.
Consider Section 4(a), which tells interrogators that when “providing a partially consumable object that is prepackaged by the manufacturer with other objects in a ‘pack’ type container (e.g. cigarettes, chewing gum), provide an unopened ‘pack’ type container to the suspect.”
Or Section 2(b), which calls for cleaning surfaces in reach of the suspect with a “solution consisting of a 10-to-1 ratio of water to bleach” and then drying those surfaces.
The protocols are listed in a Police Department memo from the chief of detectives, Phil T. Pulaski. The directive, dated June 2010, is clearly aimed at preventing contamination of potential DNA samples.
The requirements are surely not the stuff of Hollywood.
Source: The New York Times