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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2012 Archives > January 2012 > Officials to Support Governor Cuomo's Proposed Expansion of New York State'

Officials to Support Governor Cuomo's Proposed Expansion of New York State's DNA Databank

Lorey Schultz
(716) 851-5545

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DUFFY JOINS MAYOR BROWN AND BUFFALO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS TO SUPPORT GOVERNOR CUOMO’S PROPOSED EXPANSION OF NEW YORK STATE’S DNA DATABANK

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DUFFY JOINS MAYOR BROWN AND BUFFALO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS TO SUPPORT GOVERNOR CUOMO’S PROPOSED EXPANSION OF NEW YORK STATE’S DNA DATABANK

Chief Richards said: “It is important to mention that both Governor Cuomo, as former State Attorney General, and Lt. Governor Duffy, as the former Chief of the Rochester Police Department, truly understand the value of DNA collection. In Buffalo, we know the value of DNA evidence, which was invaluable in solving a string of three homicides, committed by Altemio Sanchez, or the cold case murder investigation of Barbara Lloyd, who was brutally killed in 1974.  It was DNA evidence that led to an arrest on February 1, 2007 and subsequent conviction of Leon Chatt for her stabbing death.”

New York State has yet to realize the full potential of the DNA Databank because state law only permits DNA to be collected from 48 percent of offenders convicted of a Penal Law crime. Currently, anyone convicted of a felony or one of 36 misdemeanors under the Penal Law must provide a DNA sample.           
The Governor’s proposal would require DNA samples to be collected from anyone convicted of all remaining Penal Law misdemeanors and any felony under other state laws, such as felony driving while intoxicated under the Vehicle and Traffic Law, aggravated animal cruelty under the Agriculture and Markets Law, and prescription drug offenses under the Public Health Law.
  The Databank was created in 1996. Since that time, DNA evidence has helped prosecutors solve more than 2,700 crimes and has exonerated 27 New Yorkers, including three men in Erie County.
New York’s Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Elizabeth Glazer said: “Every day we wait to expand the state’s DNA Databank, another cold case goes unresolved, a person wrongly convicted sits in prison, and we risk one of our loved ones falling victim to a crime that could have been prevented. How do we know this? Because we have evidence that shows every time we expanded the Databank, we solved more crimes. It’s just that simple.”
The last expansion in 2006, which for the first time made some misdemeanors DNA-eligible, showed that criminals do not specialize. Today’s low-level offender is often yesterday’s violent felon: 

  • DNA samples taken from individuals convicted of the misdemeanor crime of petit larceny have been linked to 965 crimes, including 51 murders, 222 sexual assaults, 117 robberies, and 407 burglaries. 
  • And DNA samples taken from individuals convicted of second-degree criminal trespass have been linked to 30 homicides, 110 sexual assaults and 121 burglaries, among other crimes.
  • Data from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) also shows that offenders linked to crimes through the DNA Databank had three prior convictions for non-DNA eligible offenses before they were convicted of offenses that required DNA samples. Many of low-level, non-DNA eligible misdemeanors are precursors to violent crime:
  • 27 percent of individuals convicted of unauthorized use of a vehicle are subsequently arrested for a violent felony offense within five years of the misdemeanor conviction.
Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy today joined with City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and law enforcement officials to show support for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to expand the state’s DNA Databank, which will help solve more crimes, bring justice to victims and exonerate innocent New Yorkers. The Lieutenant Governor and Mayor were joined at the Buffalo City Hall press conference by Erie County's First Assistant District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards and Robyn Wiktorski-Reynolds, the advocate program coordinator from Crisis Services.
“When Governor Cuomo detailed his Executive Budget proposal last month, he unveiled the next steps in his plan to build a new New York,” Lt. Governor Duffy said. “His plan to expand the state’s DNA Databank will transform our criminal justice system. During my law enforcement career, I saw case after case where DNA evidence made a difference – excluding individuals from suspicion, identifying those responsible for crimes and giving victims closure and a measure of justice. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to preclude such a powerful tool from being used to its fullest potential.”
Mayor Brown said: “Governor Cuomo’s proposal to expand the DNA Databank is critically important to solving crimes, and equally as important to keep people who are innocent from being wrongly convicted. This is going to be another useful crime fighting tool to help the Buffalo Police Department and other law enforcement agencies further reduce crime in Buffalo, and across New York.”
 
Commissioner Derenda said: “I believe the Governor's push to expand the use of DNA is an important crime-fighting measure, especially when it comes to repeat offenders. Too many times, a small number of criminals are committing a large number of the crimes.”