Denver police destroyed biological evidence in hundreds of cases


The Denver Police Department disclosed in a recent grant application that it disposed of 90 percent of evidence in sexual assault cases before 1995, according to a Denver Post report today. Department officials said they were running out of storage options in the 1990s and began to routinely destroy evidence.

Scientists who specialize in genetics have called the purging of evidence after the DNA revolution disturbing.

"By 1990 to 1993, at that point, DNA is well-known," said Alec Jeffries, the British geneticist who discovered the DNA "fingerprint" in 1984. "They would have known the real utility (of DNA)," he said, referring to most law-enforcement officials nationwide.

Even if statutes of limitations have expired on cases, the samples can still be used to aid criminal investigations into serial offenders. They also can help defense attorneys prove the innocence of their convicted clients when DNA analysis wasn't previously available.

Read the full story here

. (Denver Post, 10/11/07)

After a major series in the Denver Post this summer uncovered problems with evidence preservation in Colorado and nationwide, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter created a task force to review state law enforcement practices. The commission first met in September and the next meeting is set for Oct. 17.

Read more about the new DNA task force


Read more about reforms to ensure evidence preservation


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