Governor Martin O'Malley announced a major milestone for Maryland's DNA database today as he convened the fifth and final "Maryland Forward" forum today, designed to elicit feedback and ideas from stakeholders in preparation for a second term as Maryland's Governor. Today's forum focused on public safety and homeland security, keeping Maryland neighborhoods safe and making our state a leader in homeland security.
Maryland's DNA database, housed at the State Police Forensic Sciences Division laboratory, has now made more than 2,000 positive comparisons, or "hits," as they are commonly referred to. A positive comparison occurs when DNA obtained from a crime victim or scene is matched with either a known offender sample or DNA from another crime scene that is on file in Maryland's DNA database.
"Through the hard work of many dedicated people, we have been able to significantly increase the effectiveness of our DNA database and make it the crime-fighting tool it should be," Governor Martin O'Malley said. "Eliminating the inherited sample backlog and providing necessary personnel, equipment and financial resources to our State Police lab have been priorities for our Administration as we fight to protect Maryland neighborhoods and families. The most solemn obligation we have as public servants is to protect the public safety. This technology has greatly improved our ability to do that."
Scientists at the State Police lab have verified the positive comparison involved an offender sample that was part of the more than 24,000 sample backlog that was cleared and entered into the DNA database after funding and support was provided by Governor O'Malley during the first year of his administration. Today's announcement comes as Governor O'Malley convenes the final "Maryland Forward" forum, which took place in Annapolis with approximately 300 law enforcement and public safety stakeholders. Today's event will gather recommendations for legislation and actions related to public safety and homeland security.
In January 2008, Governor O'Malley announced the elimination of an inherited backlog of more than 24,000 untested and uncollected DNA samples from convicted felons. The backlog elimination was the result of additional funding for new positions and new equipment provided by the O'Malley-Brown Administration. Since 2007, law enforcement has made 290 arrests due to positive hits from the DNA database.
As of December 31, 2010, there were 92,493 offender samples in the statewide DNA database. Current Maryland law requires all persons convicted of a felony, fourth degree burglary, or breaking/entering of a motor vehicle to submit a DNA sample that becomes part of the DNA database.
On January 1, 2009, legislation proposed and signed into law by Governor O'Malley took effect that requires those arrested and charged with qualifying violent crimes, or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burglaries and attempts to commit those crimes, to submit a DNA sample. As of the end of 2010, there were 10,243 DNA samples in this database. There have been 104 positive DNA comparisons as a result of the new law. This has a direct impact on crime because it gives police the ability to take criminals off the street sooner and before they can continue their criminal activities.