Evaluating the DNA Field Experiment

The Urban Institute evaluated many aspects of the five-city DNA and property crime experiment, including the additional costs of using DNA analysis in a property crime investigation. The final report discusses:

  • Cost to process DNA per case
  • Cost paid by agency (police and the local/state laboratory)
  • Cost per arrest/ID/profile
  • Difference in outcomes (for example, the number of suspects identified and arrested with fingerprints vs. DNA)
  • Types of cases with the greatest returns by:
    • Evidence collector
    • Type of crime (commercial, residential, motor vehicle)
    • Type of evidence (cells, saliva, blood)

With respect to sample characteristics—and what they offer regarding best practices—blood samples were a highly significant predictor of outcome. When compared to cells collected from items that were touched or handled, blood samples were:

  • 6 to 8 times more likely to result in a DNA profile suitable for CODIS upload
  • 3 to 5 times more likely of yielding a CODIS hit

Saliva samples were more than three times as likely to yield a DNA profile, a CODIS upload and a CODIS hit than cells collected from items that had been touched or handled by the suspect.

Chapters in the The DNA Field Experiment: Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Use of DNA in the Investigation of High-Volume Crimes (pdf, 164 pages) include:

  • The Use of DNA in Burglary Investigations
  • Research Data and Methods
  • Best Practices
  • The Sites
    • Denver, Colo.
    • Los Angeles, Calif.
    • Orange County, Calif.
    • Phoenix, Ariz.
    • Topeka, Kan.
  • Cross-Site Analysis and Discussion
  • Implications for Policy and Practice
Date Modified: June 16, 2008