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NOPD working to tackle armed robbery investigations with DNA evidence

New Orleans -- The NOPD hopes forensic technology could be the key in cracking several violent cases across its Sixth District over the last couple weeks.

According to officials, investigators have collected DNA evidence at some of the crime scenes.

"The demand for the collection of it has increased," said Troy Dickerson, a senior forensic examiner for the NOPD.

While Dickerson couldn't talk about specific cases, he said now, the department is using DNA in non-murder cases more than ever.

"We have a centralized person that deals with the connection with the different districts and also making sure this DNA gets up to state police for possible testing," he said. "Right now we're looking at the contact DNA that's being collected. It's a form of DNA testing that's developing genetic profiles."

Over an eleven day period this month, the Sixth District saw eleven armed robberies.

A look at the NOPD's Crime Maps shows a bulk of the crimes struck the Lower Garden and Garden Districts.

Lauren Averill, a board member with the Coliseum Square Neighborhood Association, said people across the area are on guard.

"There's just a vibe in the neighborhood that, it's kind of taken us by surprise," she said. "People that have been here for decades, they feel the same thing. They've never seen the onslaught of crimes to this degree in such a short period of time."

Police made one arrest that officials said could be connected to three of the attacks and they've identified another suspect in several of the cases.

Still, some neighbors are considering taking extra precautions.

"What can you do? I mean, you have to walk your dog. You want to go on with your normal life, but, if you're concerned by walking down the street by yourself or getting out of your car, it's just, like I said, I've never been concerned in five years, but I'm considering buying a firearm," Averill said.

The NOPD said it has also developed what it calls "solid" witnesses in some of the armed robberies and investigators are now analyzing surveillance video that captured one of the crimes.

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