No prosecution over DNA records practices at Medical Examiner’s office

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No criminal prosecutions will be pursued over DNA record-keeping practices at the former Medical Examiner’s office.

The announcement was included in the summary of findings of a report.

In September, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS) launched an administrative investigation into the handling of convicted offender DNA data and the absence of data entries into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) between the years 2001 through 2014 by the office.

The office, known as the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS) was established on June 24, 2014, and ended up under the umbrella of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Health and Social Services. The change came after multiple problems at the office.

From 2001 through 2012, approximately 12,000 CODIS data entries were made by one employee, the OCME CODIS Administrator. Also during this time, the medical examiner’s office had a perpetual backlog of data entries to CODIS.

It was feared that failure to have up to date records could allow some sexual assault and other cases to remain unsolved.

According to a study, the growth in requests for the DNA Unit increased by 170 percent, with little or no increases in budget or personnel.

The study said there was little or no oversight within the chain of command.

The data entry backlog included approximately 2,500 data entries from convicted offender DNA cards received from 2012-2013.

A new CODIS Administrator worked to eliminate this backlog and in June 2014, worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct a routine assessment of the DFS compliance to the National DNA Index System (NDIS), the report indicated.

The FBI assessment found DFS to be compliant with Federal law and procedures governing participation in the NDIS. This review had not previously been completed as this new federal policy, related to the assessment of all laboratories participating in NDIS, was created just a few years earlier.

However, in July 2014, another 1,041 records, from years 2001-2012, was discovered.in abox.

Acting Director Randall L. Hughes (now Chief of the Georgetown Police Department) worked with the new DFS CODIS Administrator to audit CODIS and enter the data from 1,041 records.

The new administrator audited the approximately 12,000 CODIS data entries made by the previous OCME CODIS Administrator. The audit resulted in 604 of 12,000 DNA records being removed from CODIS because they were improperly uploaded.

The 1,041 backlogged records and the 604 records comprised approximately 1,600 records that remained from the OCME backlog to correct.

The Forensic Science CODIS team not only processed the medical examiner’s backlog, but also processed the 791 convicted offender samples DFS received in 2014. No backlog exists.

Since 2014, Forensic Science under the direction of Safety and Homeland Security has instituted multiple layers of safeguards to ensure proper CODIS data entry.

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