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News / Clark County News

Vancouver Police seeks DNA machine amid surging crime

Technology can process evidence in 60 to 90 minutes

By Will Campbell, Columbian Associate Editor
Published: June 18, 2022, 3:31pm

The Vancouver Police Department is looking to buy a new $500,000 machine to rapidly analyze DNA to provide evidence for property crime investigations.

According to a report from Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle about her trip to Washington D.C. early this month to lobby for funding Vancouver projects, she and a group of local politicians met with U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. Both have requested federal funding for the DNA testing machine, among other projects.

“The Vancouver Police rapid DNA machine would be a fantastic tool for the entire Southwest Washington, Clark County area and Vancouver,” McEnerny-Ogle wrote in an email. “And, yes, we would share it.”

Since 2019, overall crime reports have increased by 59 percent in Vancouver, and property crimes have increased at an even greater rate. In the last two years, auto theft increased 176 percent, vehicle prowls are up 75 percent, theft is up 51 percent, burglary is up 48 percent and robbery is up 35 percent, according to the city.

The machine is “about the size of an office printer” and takes between 60 to 90 minutes to analyze DNA evidence, which can be obtained from people or property, according to the report.

All local DNA samples in Clark County are currently sent to the state’s crime lab, where violent crimes are prioritized. It can take evidence from nonviolent crimes months or more than a year to process.

In 2017, the Rapid DNA Act became a federal law, which allowed regional police to use their rapid DNA machines to connect to the national DNA database called Codis. Since 2019, the law has allowed communities around the country to quickly process criminal evidence.

This article was updated to accurately state the time it takes to process DNA.