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Collecting DNA from suspects at certain felony arrests begins Wednesday, and state officials say the state crime lab is ready for an expected busier workload.
“Wisconsin law enforcement will begin collecting DNA samples from violent felony arrestees and all persons convicted of a crime (both misdemeanor and felonies) when a new law takes effect April 1, 2015,” a written statement from Attorney General Brad Schimel reads.
The law was passed in 2013.
To prepare for the increased number of samples shipped to the state crime lab, lawmakers approved the construction of an additional 4,857 square feet of office space, 3,034 square feet of lab space, and additional storage space. New DNA analysts and forensic program techs – eight each – were hired and underwent training. They started working in the new spaces on March 20.
“There is a huge investigative benefit to taking DNA at arrest by solving crimes and preventing future victimizations,” Schimel said in the statement. “Serious crimes will be solved by matching suspects in our database to offenders, as well as eliminating innocent persons from law enforcement investigations. This will bring about quicker resolutions for the victims who have suffered serious effects at the hands of violent offenders.”
5,620 cases since 1998 have been solved using DNA from convicted offenders. Another 13,906 DNA profiles from crime scenes across the state are unidentified because they’ve not yet been matched to a potential suspect.
Wisconsin is the 29th state to collect DNA at arrest.