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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

OPD chief stresses need for quicker DNA analyses for homicide investigations

Ocala Police Chief Mike Balken

The Ocala Police chief stressed the need for quicker DNA analyses for cases, including homicide investigations, during a recent meeting of business professionals.

Chief Mike Balken, who made the comments during a morning presentation to the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, explained the lengthy, involved process in obtaining DNA testing from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

“We get to ship five items of evidence to FDLE at any given time. It takes them about two months to test those five items, develop a profile, if there is one, and get that back to us,” said Balken of the process.

Balken suggested that the sheer amount of items recovered for each case was making it difficult for the department to test as many of those items as possible for DNA evidence.

“For the average homicide, we work to recover about 300 items of evidence. About 150 of those have potential DNA on them,” said Balken.

Balken indicated that without an improvement in resources, the department would continue going to trial in certain cases without first obtaining results from DNA testing.

“We’re trying to get funding from the state to improve our lab resources, that really allow us to do a better job of analyzing and interpreting that DNA for the jurors and the judges to see,” said Balken.