If there’s a crime anywhere in Connecticut, chances are the evidence will head to the Connecticut State Crime Lab. There, forensic scientists will test the evidence in every way possible.
"Let’s say a weapon comes into the laboratory, someone from forensic biology will typically look at that piece of evidence and again, look for that gun powder residue, and again look for blood stains, any other piece of biological material that may be on that particular weapon," said Bob O'Brien, Supervising Criminalist Forensic Science Examiner at the State Crime Lab.
That’s just the beginning. It takes at least another two weeks to go through analyzing any DNA evidence.
"If a case comes into the lab as no suspect, we process the evidentiary sample, and if we generate a profile, we put it into our CODIS database, and that will search against all convicted offenders and other forensic profiles that are already entered into the database," said Cheryl Civitello, a Forensic Science Examiner.
When a match is found, there’s even more DNA testing, and that’s just on one piece of evidence! With the thousands of items that come into the crime lab, it takes time.
"There is a backlog, again, the amount of examiners that we need to process the evidence, are pretty much sometimes inadequate unfortunately. We take every piece of evidence seriously," said O'Brien.
That isn’t something that can be accomplished in an hour, like many see on TV shows.
"We have a lot of steps to take to keep the integrity of the evidence, make sure that nothing goes wrong through that process, so it takes time and it’s nothing that will happen quickly," said Civitello.
Once the evidence is all tested, the final report goes to either the arresting agency or the prosecutor’s office where they can take the next step.
"DNA is collected very often from crime scenes, whether they’re property crimes or violent crimes, and it’s critical to collect it and analyze it," Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said.
Kane says cases are ranked on priority. A murder case may take precedence over a home burglary. It could take up to a year to get all the evidence analyzed.
"Because of the amount of evidence that’s collected these days, there’s a backlog at the lab, and they’re understaffed. We’ve made big progress, but it still creates a time delay, and a large time delay," said Kane.
However, Kane says the evidence is crucial, both to put criminals away and to exonerate them. No matter how long it takes.