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Squad Car Profiling

Law enforcement agencies are excited for rapid DNA profiling like that being offered by IntegenX's RapidHIT, writes Shane Bauer at Mother Jones.

The tool can generate a DNA profile from, say, a cheek swab, compare that profile to a database, and determine if there is a match, all within about 90 minutes. Faster, Bauer says, than the typical forensic turnaround time of two days.

As GenomeWeb reported in the spring, the system is being marketed to law enforcement and federal agencies in certain countries. Bauer adds that it has already been put to use in a few US states as well as in Australia, China, and other countries in Africa and Europe.

The US government is interested in using the device to determine whether people applying for asylum who say they are related actually are, and to try to cut down on child trafficking by testing whether children entering the US are related to the adults they are with, Chris Miles, from the Department of Homeland Security's biometrics program, tells Bauer.

In states, police have been using RapidHIT to identify and rule out suspects, Bauer adds.

Its potential for widespread use, though, worries privacy advocates like Electronic Frontier Foundation's Jennifer Lynch, who say that police and law enforcement agencies could it to generate and then store a greater number of DNA profiles.