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Governor Martin O'Malley Joins Public Safety Officials to Announce Significant New Milestone in DNA Program

Press Release

Location: Baltimore, MD

Governor Martin O'Malley joined Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld, III, Terry Long, Director of the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division, and Baltimore City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young today to announce a significant new milestone in the State's DNA program. Governor O'Malley announced that thanks to the hard work and dedication of local law enforcement, state and local lab technicians, and the public safety community, Maryland has surpassed 250 arrests resulting from a backlog of 24,000 DNA samples that the O'Malley-Brown Administration inherited in 2007. To date, 267 suspected murderers, rapists, burglars, and other criminals have been arrested from DNA evidence that at one point, sat on a shelf inside the State Police DNA lab, unanalyzed.

"When our Administration first took office nearly four years ago, we inherited a shameful backlog of 24,000 unanalyzed DNA samples. That's 24,000 opportunities to solve crimes that we just had failed to analyze, that we had failed to put through the scientific rigor that would enable it to be matched within the larger database," said Governor O'Malley. "Today, we've eliminated that backlog, and as a result more than 260 suspected criminals will face their day in court. Already, we've generated 28 convictions in Baltimore City alone, resulting in 360 years in prison and four life sentences -- just by clearing that backlog of samples."

Arrests since March 2007 from the database include 122 burglary or robbery suspects, 16 homicide suspects, and more than 100 individuals wanted for sex offenses. Of the 267 arrests to date resulting from the clearance of the 24,000 sample backlog, 123 arrests are for crimes in Baltimore City.

"I would like to thank Gov. O'Malley for his tireless commitment to making the streets of Baltimore safer. Thanks to a team of dedicated professionals, who worked diligently to reduce the state's backlog of unanalyzed DNA samples, hundreds of violent criminals are behind bars," Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said.

"The future of law enforcement will rely heavily on the scientific use of DNA and crime lab technology. The Governor's commitment to expanding the use of DNA in Maryland is paying big dividends in our efforts to get bad guys off the streets and make the city of Baltimore a safer place," said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III.

In addition to crossing this important milestone in arrests resulting from the backlog, in the past three years the total number of convicted offender profiles entered into the database have tripled (from 28,155 in 2007 to 89,097 year-to-date). The total number of "hits," or incidents where a DNA sample in the database is matched with a crime, has also tripled (from a total of 594 in 2007 to 1,840 today).

"The priority Governor Martin O'Malley placed on guaranteeing the effective use of DNA for fighting crime in Maryland is the reason our backlog was eliminated and our state's DNA database is operating with an efficiency never before seen in its 16-year history," Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan said. "His efforts resulted in new equipment, additional personnel, overtime funding, and a coordinated effort among state and local public safety agencies. Those efforts, along with the dedicated work of committed forensic scientists, have combined to triple the number of offender samples in our DNA database and triple the number of positive comparisons made through the use of the database."

Today's announcement comes just two days after Governor O'Malley announced an expansion of the use of license plate reader technology to further improve local and state police's ability to capture stolen vehicles as well as protect Maryland's critical infrastructure. Governor O'Malley has championed the use of innovative technology in making Maryland neighborhoods safer, including using DNA evidence to convict violent offenders and the creation of the Public Safety Dashboard, enabling law enforcement to access more than 92 databases at once, now receiving up to 40,000 queries a day.

Through the innovative use of public safety technology, unprecedented information sharing across borders, and strategic reforming of long-troubled public safety state agencies, law enforcement personnel throughout Maryland have driven crime to historic lows:

* Violent crime at its lowest rate ever reported.
* Homicides at their lowest rate ever reported.
* Robberies at their lowest rate ever reported.
* Aggravated Assaults at their lowest rate since 1976.
* Motor vehicle thefts at their lowest rate ever reported.
* Property crime at its lowest rate ever reported.
* Total crime at its lowest rate ever reported.

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