Gun charges in New York that hinge on officer testimony often don’t lead to jury convictions. To change that, the city is pursuing an ambitious and expensive plan to collect and test DNA from every gun recovered to build cases based on physical evidence.
For all of New York City’s success in reducing violent crime, only about half of the people arrested for carrying a loaded gun in the city get convicted. Juries like hard evidence and often mistrust cases that hinge on police testimony. To change that, the city is pursuing an ambitious and expensive plan to collect and test DNA from every gun recovered by police, reports The Trace. The goal is to boost the number of successful prosecutions and discourage the carrying of illegal weapons–“to make it radioactive to even pick up a gun,” said Richard Aborn, president of the nonprofit Citizens Crime Commission of New York City.
The New York program, which began in the summer of 2015, is expanding. Last year, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed DNA tests for 1,682 gun cases, nearly quadruple the number from 2014. The city this month gave the office an additional $8 million to pay for 55 new employees to process gun swabs, plus training and equipment. That money amounts to about 10 percent of the office’s total annual budget. Police officials and the medical examiner’s office said they could not estimate the total cost of the swabbing and testing program since it would include staff time for police, prosecutors, and scientists, as well as equipment and training in several different departments and agencies.