ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Getting a DNA match will soon take a fraction of the time, that it takes now. Albuquerque Police Department’s new state of the art DNA lab is just weeks away from being fully up and running.
“Before it would take at least 2-3 weeks and I’m really hoping we can get down to a week,” said Andrew Dowling, the DNA Technical Leader at the Albuquerque Crime Lab.
Bought with money from last year’s legislature, three new specialty machines are now housed at APD’s crime lab. One is meant specifically for rape cases. “It would take any of the victim’s cells, separate those off, and then we’re left with just the sperm cells,” said Dowling.
The machine uses a centrifuge to separate all the DNA, and give analysts a “clean” sample in just 90 minutes. The backlogged rape kits should all be tested within the next few months, and when they are APD believe these machines will help them quickly start testing another backlog.
“We have about 4,000 property crime cases we’re trying to get through,” said Commander Christopher George with the Albuquerque Police Department.
The Qiagen Machine can test up to 84 samples at a time at the APD lab. Ultimately, this frees up time and money at the state lab which allows them to help other agencies across the state.
George says it’s a big step forward. “I equate it from going from an 18th-century lab to a 21st-century lab,” said George.
This year, APD’s crime lab is asking for $5.3 million from the state legislature. They want to buy two new crime scene response vehicles and expand their ballistics program.