By joshua lee

Imagine arresting a suspect with stolen goods, collecting his DNA, and being immediately alerted before the booking process is complete that the offender’s DNA is linked to an unsolved 2020 officer shooting. This timely notification prevented the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office from inadvertently releasing the suspect to commit more offenses and enabled investigators to track and book the offender for all offenses, not just the offense for which he was convicted. That’s what he was originally arrested for.

Officers from the Fishers Police Department respond to an emergency call, enter the building and they find several bodies. Murder, Suicide, or Both? Within hours, the RapidHit ID DNA system allowed the Fishers Police Department (Indiana), working in cooperation with the Hamilton County Coroner, to identify the deceased. Since implementing the program late last year, Fisher PD has rapidly identified dozens more. “Making a positive identification quickly is vital when dealing with a death investigation,” said Sergeant Jim Hawkins, “and it provides families and the community with much needed answers.”

The RapidHit ID System, an FBI-approved rapid DNA device from Thermo Fisher Scientific, rapidly generates investigation leads and identifications in the field at the booking station or agency site.

The RapidHit ID System, an FBI-approved rapid DNA device from Thermo Fisher Scientific, rapidly generates investigation leads and identifications in the field at the booking station or agency site.

“We have to continue to implement innovative things that keep us ahead of crime and be proactive, not reactive,” explains Chief Ed Gebhart of the Fishers Police Department. “Rapid DNA puts us in a unique position to help us bring solutions to market rapidly and confidently.” And getting those answers and solutions not only saves time, but money as well. A recent study It was determined that the RapidHit ID DNA system is up to $419 less expensive per sample than conventional DNA testing. [1]

The RapidHit ID system is based on the same reliable DNA methods used to support investigations for decades, but the technology is now condensed into a simple operation model to provide answering solutions for law enforcement personnel. Small, fast and now portable Rapid DNA enables investigators to conduct on-site DNA testing, providing objective, timely actionable leads that help guide investigations in the early stages, saving valuable time and resources There is savings.

Since rapid DNA is a new concept to many people, I want to discuss what rapid DNA testing is, the value of rapid DNA technology to law enforcement and its citizens, and how rapid DNA improves justice overall. system can help.

What is Rapid DNA Technology?

Rapid DNA, or rapid DNA analysis, is a term used to describe a fully automated process of developing a DNA profile from a sample in 1–2 hours. [2]

Traditionally, DNA analysis takes place in a laboratory setting, but with rapid DNA technology, the entire analysis takes place within a single machine and computer.

Rapid DNA analysis begins with the collection of a sample, such as saliva, blood or tissue, from a crime scene or a known person. The sample is then inserted into a cartridge, which is placed in the Rapid DNA apparatus. The device performs a series of automated steps, including DNA extraction, amplification, separation, and detection, to generate a DNA profile. The DNA profiles can then be compared to DNA databases containing DNA profiles of unsolved crimes, arrested or convicted persons, missing and unidentified human remains or family members in order to identify suspects, link and solve crimes, and identify unknowns. Are included.

How does rapid DNA technology benefit criminal investigations?

The most important advantage of rapid DNA technology is that it saves time during testing. Traditional DNA analysis methods can take weeks or months to complete – in some cases, such as non-violent, property crimes, the sample may not be tested at all. However, with rapid DNA, law enforcement can generate profiles within a few hours, at the start of an investigation and even while an arrested person is in custody.

When an arrestee’s DNA is processed with the RapidHit ID DNA booking system, the arrestee’s DNA is enrolled and searched in a national database before the booking and charging process is complete. If the DNA profile of the arrested person matches the DNA from an unsolved case in the State or National DNA database, the booking and investigating agency are immediately informed through NLETS. With this new lead, if probable cause exists on another crime, the suspect is more likely to be detained until additional charges are filed and additional crimes are prevented.

Rapid DNA provides objective evidence that helps to rapidly eliminate the innocent and expedite the development of legitimate suspects in an investigation. I have spoken to many suspected criminals, and waiting for the results to clear a person’s name can have a lasting impact mentally, physically and financially.

Another advantage of rapid DNA equipment is portability, which allows investigators to test samples at crime scenes, police stations, or prisons. This point of collection testing capability can streamline the investigative process and reduce delays associated with evidence submission, triage, and testing in traditional laboratory settings.

Impact of Rapid DNA on the Justice System

By providing information early in the investigation, this technology helps solve crimes more effectively and provides additional benefits to the criminal justice system as a whole. Studies have repeatedly shown that expanding DNA testing, rapidly generating DNA test leads, and ensuring that all legally arrested or convicted criminal DNA is entered into a DNA database can help solve, prevent, and deter crime. And deterring criminals is a good investment.3 Over time, the resources allocated to DNA test stewardship bring both monetary and social savings. DNA’s ability to link multiple crimes committed by a defendant leads to faster, more accurate pleas and quicker prosecutions—a win-win for all criminal justice stakeholders.


Rapid DNA technology is an invaluable tool for the law enforcement community. With its easy-to-operate design, low per-sample cost, and portability, law enforcement officers can perform DNA testing on the spot. Rapid DNA means staying one step ahead with timely, objective investigative leads, rapidly eliminating and identifying suspects, and ultimately achieving much-needed answers and justice for families, victims and the community.


1. Hawke MM, Speaker PJ. (2023.) Maximize crime-solving with rapid DNA: Complementary approach to DNA processing saves time and money, Speaker P.J. (2023.) Economic Comparison of the Relative Cost and Efficiency of Using the Thermo Fisher Scientific RapidHit™ ID System Versus Conventional DNA Laboratory Analysis, Project foresight working paper.

2. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Standards for Operation of Rapid DNA Booking Systems by Law Enforcement Booking Agencies, Accessed May 16, 2023.

3.Anker AS, Doliac JL, Landersow R. (2021.) Effects of DNA databases on the prevention and detection of criminals. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 13(4):194–225.

About the Author

Joshua Lee is an active-duty police sergeant for the Mesa City (Arizona) Police Department. Prior to his promotion, Joshua spent five years as a patrol officer and six years as a detective in the Organized Crime Section investigating civilian asset forfeiture, white-collar financial crimes, and cryptocurrency crimes.

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