New Orleans approved for rapid DNA testing at the Orleans Justice Center

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 4:47 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New rapid DNA testing technology will soon be available for use in New Orleans.

“New Orleans will be receiving the new rapid DNA technology at it’s facility, which is the Orleans Justice Center,” says Helena Moreno. “The use of this technology is so important.”

Councilwoman Moreno and other city leaders toured the East Baton Rouge lockup, where rapid DNA testing is already taking place. The testing can net results in just 90 minutes.

Louisiana State Police oversees the operation and became the first agency in the country to get approval from the FBI to do it. Now, New Orleans leaders have secured a grant from LSP to bring it to New Orleans as well.

“Since they’re the first to do this, New Orleans will then be the fourth jurisdiction in the country to have this type of technology at a booking facility,” says Moreno.

Rapid DNA testing happens just after an individual is arrested at the booking station.

Former manager of the State Police DNA lab, Joanie Brocato is now the head of the Medical Laboratory Science with LSU Health.

“So, we can collect it upon arrest, put that into the instrument, and within 90 minutes, the DNA database of unsolved crimes can be searched and a hit generated right there while the individual is in custody,” says Joani Brocato.

Within 90 minutes, investigators will know if the DNA of someone who was just arrested matches the DNA from other crimes already in the database.

“That process usually takes many days to potentially weeks, so by the time you realize you have a CODIS hit, you realize that’s the suspect we’ve been looking for,” says Moreno.

The process is simple and the technology will be located right inside the Orleans Parish lockup.

“The DNA swab is collected and the cartridge is just placed into that instrument and the process just happens,” says Brocato.


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“Benefits are, first of all, for our victims to be able to have this type of hit in that short amount of time and not have to wait weeks, months for those hits to occur. It’s critically important to our victims and to our community,” says Brocato.

Moreno says the first to be notified of a DNA match will be the NOPD investigators who will then decide what action to take next.

The State Police grant will provide funding for at least a year for the technology, the DNA cartridges, and training for the deputies.

“If we want to go beyond having the one machine, if we want to have another machine at our juvenile facility, then that would be a cost to us,” says Moreno.

Moreno believes rapid DNA testing will prove to be an important tool in the fight against crime in New Orleans.

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