STARLIMS is expanding its worldwide presence in the forensics market with products and applications designed for crime labs, evidence collection teams and police property rooms.
The company is building a strong presence and reputation in crime labs, and early adopters are pleased with the performance and workflow enhancements to its web-based LIMS software. Timothy French, DNA analyst for the Beaufort County (SC) Sheriff’s Office, decided it was time to use an outside LIMS provider when the waiting time for DNA tests results from the state crime lab reached a year or longer.
“We needed a commercial system to create our own DNA database and did not want to use multiple software programs,” said French. “Our lab was sort of a guinea pig early on for STARLIMS in forensics. When evidence comes into the lab, the DNA results are logged into the system and we generate reports that go to the requesting officer and the clerk of the court. STARLIMS has a rich set of functionalities that meets our needs very well,” said French. “We get faster results from STARLIMS than we did when we had a staff person on the next floor tweaking a home grown system.”
French said the forensics services laboratory lab handles about 9,000 cases a year, of which 8,000 are drug analysis and 1,000 require DNA evidence testing.
For crime labs, STARLIMS offers a complete laboratory informatics solution that includes crime scene inventories, property management and courtroom testimony tracking. It is a paperless system that helps ensure compliance with regulatory standards, reduces costs, minimizes errors, and produces timely reports that help police and prosecutors make informed decisions.
At crime scenes, police don’t get a second chance to collect evidence. On arrival, they must secure the site and begin a meticulous process of inspecting, gathering and recording all available evidence. It’s a thorough job that requires precise attention to detail. STARLIMS allows comprehensive documentation of the crime scene without needing to re-enter manually transcribed information, and evidence technicians can generate crime scene reports on the spot. There’s no need for paper log books or complex multiple data management programs.
“With STARLIMS, the crime scene process is bag it, tag it and track it. Collect and package the evidence, barcode it, and retrieve in the system when necessary using a barcode scanner,” said Robin Gall, PhD, forensics product manager, STARLIMS.
Gall said mobile informatics apps are on the way from STARLIMS that will enable investigators to document everything at a crime scene using a tablet computer. At its Forum users meeting in February, STARLIMS previewed its Next Gen designer which allows users to develop, deploy and maintain HTML5 apps for both iOS and Android platforms. Gall said the soon-to-be-introduced mobile crime scene and property room modules will seamlessly interact with the core LIMS web-based software and has the same barcode and chain of custody features.
For DNA analysis, the Tokyo Forensic Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) implemented STARLIMS DNA LIMS solution to automate creation of DNA profiles from family members of earthquake and tsunami victims and help expedite identification. MPD anticipated using the system for at least a year to process the huge volume of specimens, but they continue to work with it for the ongoing victim identification effort. After processing and analysis, the DNA profiles are sent back to the originating police jurisdictions for further comparisons.