MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Police are out searching not only for criminals but also for their DNA.
Under New York law, people convicted of felonies and most misdemeanors are required to provide DNA samples for possible links to unsolved crimes.
"It's another tool in our repertoire that solves crime," Nassau County Detective Sgt. Patrick Ryder told Newsday in a story published Saturday. "We are one of the most proactive and efficient departments taking samples."
Ryder, who oversees the county's DNA collection system, said police search for convicts who owe authorities DNA instead of relying on collecting a sample if an offender gets rearrested. That's common practice elsewhere.
Nassau police have yet to obtain DNA from about 1,200 convicted criminals.
The samples go into a state and federal database to be compared with DNA from crime scenes.
New York state has more than 500,000 computerized DNA profiles. According to state data, matches have been made in more than 17,000 cases.
In the past three years, Nassau police have collected 572 samples, estimating that one of every 50 leads to an arrest. Some have led to convictions, including a 1989 Hempstead murder, a 2005 burglary in New Hyde Park and a 2007 sexual assault and robbery in Roosevelt, police said.
Samples have been collected from people as far away as Florida and Alabama, with authorities going to homes and offices, mailing letters and hosting days called DNA Saturdays, when people may come forward and offer their DNA.
Then, "when I bring a guy in, we develop a relationship," Ryder said. "He might say, 'I know this guy Paul. He's doing stickups.'"
In their patrol cars, officers have DNA swab kits and access to an instructional video for the procedure, which takes just minutes.
Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com