By Chris Fish
PALM BAY -- The city of Palm Bay has offered a two-year contract to a forensic company in the hopes of processing and solving cases with DNA, officials announced in early February.
Cellmark Forensics, Inc., a company based in Dallas, Texas, has been awarded the contract to provide private DNA processing and database services for the Palm Bay Police Department.
The agreement is in support of the Department's effort to use DNA to solve property crimes.
"The focus of this forensic program is to use DNA profiles to generate intelligence leads and court-acceptable evidence," said Capt. Diana Blackledge, head of criminal investigations for the Palm Bay Police Department. "The Department is a national pioneer in use of local DNA databasing and private-public initiatives since 2007. This iniative has suppressed the incidents of property crime in the city by more than 25 percent below the national and regional averages per population."
Capt. Blackledge said the original forensics company the city was partnered with since 2007, closed in January, due to the death of its owner.
Capt. Blackledge said that DNA evidence helps a variety of cases.
"It is difficult to assign a number of cases, in which DNA evidence assisted or led to their resolution," she said. "This is because DNA is a significant factor in all cases for the identification of the perpetrator. We gather DNA evidence at all crime scenes, major or minor, when we believe that we need to identify a suspect to prove that a person was present at the scene."
Capt. Blackledge said that DNA evidence can also solve several cases at once.
"Many times, we learn that a person, who is discovered to have committed a burglary, has committed several others that have remained unsolved or unreported," she said. "So, once we successfully prosecute a criminal using DNA, as evidence to solve the case, there may be more potential crimes that have been prevented."
Capt. Blackledge said that Cellmark Forensics has worked on several high-profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson trial, the Jon Benet Ramsey investigation and the Unabomber investigation.
Cellmark Forensics is a subsidiary of LabCorp and has one of the largest private forensics labs in the world.