RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — The Richland County Sheriff’s Department forensic lab can now confirm a suspect from evidence such as a discarded cigarette butt at a crime scene in as little as an hour and a half.
Thanks to a new machine that condenses the DNA analysis, a process that once took Richland County 24 hours now takes just 90 minutes.
“Being on the cutting edge now is going to help us solve so many crimes a lot quicker in Richland County,” said Sheriff Leon Lott.
Few sheriff’s departments have a forensics lab. Richland’s lab processes between 100 and 200 DNA samples a month, so speed is important because it can bring closure to victims, Lott said.
The department was given the machine, called RapidHIT 200, by IntegenX, a company based out of California, in exchange for the department purchasing the kit to process DNA samples. Richland’s forensic lab was chosen because of its reputation and international accreditation, Lott said.
The machine will allow the forensics lab to process rushed cases without affecting the other cases being processed, said Gray Amick, who works in the lab. When a rushed case came in before, workers had to put everything else down and stop processing other cases to speed up the rushed one, he said.
Now the work flow will not be affected. The machine also does the work of several machines, which consolidates the process, he said.
The machine has already been put to use, helping confirm one of three suspects in a string of burglaries in northeast Richland County from December 2013 to February 2014, Lott said.
If other agencies need access to the machine, then the department would share, he said.
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.