State police will get help in DNA backlog

Carroll County sheriff says he'll urge colleagues to aid in collection

August 05, 2004|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County sheriff agreed yesterday to begin collecting cheek-swab DNA samples from convicted felons at the county jail - a move designed to help the Maryland State Police tackle a backlog of required samples that was the subject of a critical state audit.

Although the Carroll Detention Center housed 17 people convicted of crimes yesterday - and the state police backlog is more than 9,000 - officials said yesterday's agreement could be the start of an effort by local jurisdictions to help the state police catch up.

Carroll Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning will become president of the Maryland Sheriffs' Association next month, and he pledged to use his influence to get other sheriffs to help collect DNA from new convicts.

"It's a very efficient way to combine local and state resources to solve a large common problem," Tregoning said. "To me, it's a no-brainer."

He said that 10 of the state's sheriffs run their local jails, and that two of them have agreed to participate. Tregoning and George R. Hardinger, warden of the Carroll detention center, said they will urge officials in other counties and members of the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association to help.

John J. Tobin Jr., director of the state police forensic sciences division, called yesterday's agreement "the beginning of a collaborative effort."

The audit, made public last month, found that the agency failed to collect DNA samples from thousands of felons and that many of those collected were not analyzed or entered in the state's database.

The use of DNA - a genetic fingerprint - has led not only to arrests and convictions in unsolved crimes, but also to the clearing of some people wrongly convicted, officials said.

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