State moves toward approving familial DNA searches
by Patrick Kearns
Mar 28, 2017 | 469 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The state Commission on Forensic Science’s DNA Subcommittee approved an initial measure that would pave the way for familial DNA searching in New York State.

“Today, the state Commission’s DNA Subcommittee approved such regulations that strike a balance between enhancing public safety without compromising individual protections,” said Janine Kava, a spokeswoman for the commission.

The search strategy, currently being used in ten other states, searches the state DNA database for a close family match to DNA collected by police at a crime scene.

If it is ultimately approved, familial DNA searches may be used if there is no match or partial match to DNA already in the state database, and the crime is a violent felony or the suspect poses a public threat.

“Key provisions detail limited circumstances that must be met before a familial search occurs and when those search results can be disclosed to law enforcement, and require training for police and prosecutors on the proper use of familial search results,” Kava added.

The full committee is set to vote on the measure on April 12 in Albany.

Local lawmakers advocated for the measure while police were hunting for the killer of Karina Vetrano, who was murdered last summer while jogging in Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach.

Despite police arresting 20-year-old Chanel Lewis of Brooklyn as the prime suspect, the family of Vetrano and elected officials continued the fight.

"Two of the first constituents I spoke with after taking office were Phil and Cathie Vetrano, who at that point had had to wait six long months past their daughter's murder for any leads to turn up,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato. “Instead of turning inward, the Vetranos made Karina's case into a true search for justice.

“And when their own case got a break without the need for familial DNA matching, they didn't let up for a second, not wanting any other family to go through the painful delay they went through in getting justice for their daughter,” she added.
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