TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Forensic analysts with the Utah Department of Public Safety unveiled new tools Monday that aim to expedite evidence processing and hopefully solve crimes faster.
The DART (Direct Analysis in Real Time) processor is a state-of-the-art, $200K machine that cuts the time it takes to process drug evidence from crime scenes exponentially. What used to be a labor-intensive drug analysis process that took close to an hour, can now take mere seconds.
Jay Henry, Chief Forensic Scientist with Utah DPS said his department always wanted DART, but now knows the machine was an absolute necessity after testing it out for about a month.
“It’s an instrument that allows us to do chemical testing just by waving a sample in front of a beam,” Henry explained. The machine instantly analyzes the drug evidence and tells the analyst what the substance is. This can be especially helpful as new synthetic drugs make their way onto the streets, Henry said.
Faster drug-evidence processing can lead to quicker arrests, analysts added.
The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) is also helping crime labs process ballistic information more quickly, Henry said.
Cutting-edge technology allows closer looks at shell casings recovered at shooting scenes. Henry said NIBIN allows faster processing of shell casings and allows analysts to more efficiently determine whether different shooting incidents that happen in the area are related to one another.
Robots now being used to process rape kits and other DNA evidence obtained at crime scenes are also speeding up processes that used to take much longer. Robots can work 24/7 processing DNA, with minimal human interaction.
The technology has to be analyzed by the courts before it can be used in real-world situations, Henry said. Prosecutors and defense attorneys hash out the pros and cons of the advanced technology.
The new equipment was purchased with federal and state funding, Henry told reporters. More efficient technology could help cut taxpayer costs in the long run.