Forensic DNA Unit
The DNA Unit of the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS) conducts forensic DNA testing of biological materials associated with official investigations including sexual assaults, homicides, firearm possession cases, and property crimes. The DNA Unit consists of 2 sections: Casework Section and CODIS Database Section. Both sections of the DNA Unit utilize the latest in Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology to assist law enforcement in cases involving DNA evidence.
The Forensic DNA Analysts in the Casework Unit are responsible for examination of evidence, performing preliminary tests to determine the type of biological fluid on an item of evidence, extracting DNA, analyzing/interpreting data, reporting DNA results, and testifying to those results in court.
All Forensic DNA Analysts in the DNA Unit must have at a minimum a BS/BA degree in a biology, chemistry, or forensic science including coursework in genetics, biochemistry, statistics, and molecular biology.
A new graduate hired as a Forensic DNA Analyst receives training at DFS with qualified Analysts using established protocols. The training lasts at a minimum of six months. The goal of DNA Section is to ensure the quality, integrity, and accuracy of the DNA typing data and its presentation.
CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System. This is a nationwide database comprised of DNA profiles. Included in the database are the profiles of convicted offenders, profiles developed from evidence in solved and unsolved cases, and profiles from missing persons and unidentified human remains.
The Forensic DNA Analysts in the CODIS Section at the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS) are responsible for obtaining and analyzing DNA profiles for all convicted felons in the state. The program was initiated in Delaware in 1994 when legislation was passed approving the collection of blood or buccal samples from individuals of any felony. At the DFS, the CODIS section works closely with the casework section. Many of the evidentiary profiles developed by the DNA casework section are searched within the Delaware database against other cases and the profiles of convicted offenders. Many of these profiles are also searched throughout the national system on a weekly basis.
All fifty states, two federal labs, and twenty-seven foreign countries participate in CODIS. Nationwide there are over 4.76 million profiles in the CODIS system. Over 28,000 DNA “hits,” or profile matches, have occurred since the beginning of CODIS. Each hit represents a criminal case that has been aided by CODIS.