Forensic Science: DNA

After a break for the holidays, we are back! We’re excited to kick off our 2020 episodes with a new series. For the next three episodes, we’re going to look at what goes into forensic science. Many of us have watched Bones, Law & Order, or NCIS. The high-tech labs, the lightning-fast diagnostics, and the autopsy pros are what help the police catch the bad guy. But, is this what’s it’s like in real life? We talked to Ken Jones, Deputy Director of Analytical Science for the Baltimore Police Department, about how DNA plays a role in criminal investigations.

Memorable Quotes

“A DNA profile is unique to individuals…if they’re trying to identify criminals connected to some type of crime scene or criminal act or maybe identify specific individuals or contact with individuals…its a pretty powerful tool for investigators to use.”

To do the testing…”We’re looking at specific locations on an individual’s genome where there is a specific DNA repeat that is repeated a certain number of times. And essentially, we count how many times it’s repeated…and that can get distilled into a DNA profile.”

“The CSI effect is the concept that people whose only expose to forensic science is through these one hour long TV shows have a skewed expectation of what forensic science is, how long it takes to complete the work, and what type of results it can give you.”

“[TV shows] certainly bring [forensics] more exposure than it would have ordinarily! With that becomes more of a perception of a need for funding and equipment to make sure we have all the tools we need…it’s giving us more opportunities.”

Resources

To learn more about forensic science, Ken recommended checking out AAFS.

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