Earlier this week, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office announced it had agreed with all 40 local municipal police forces to purchase a third-party DNA database. The BodeHITS database, costing approximately $600,000 per year, will allow individuals to enter evidence and check for matches. The results are then shared between the various municipal police forces. According to one report, the county-wide database is the first of its kind in the country and currently has more than 13,000 DNA sample entries.
Currently, suspects must consent to be “swabbed.” The state’s system only includes convicted offenders. Chances are good that privacy groups will challenge the process.
According to the Police Chiefs of Bucks County Association, using the database, which had a soft-opening beginning in June, has already led to several arrests and exonerations. The local database allows faster processing times than the state system. Officers have been trained to use the kit provided by the vendor. After collecting evidence at crime scenes, the evidence will be sent via FedEx to Bode’s laboratory in Virginia. DNA evidence from all sorts of crimes will be collected and shared, helping to snare criminals who may move from town to town.
We may soon see other local counties joining the database program, or instead work together to improve CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System , a national database of local, state, and federal case DNA profiles managed by the FBI.