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Rapid DNA system to help solve crimes in Guilford County

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- From high level crimes like homicides to property crimes, Col. Randy Powers with Guilford County Sheriff's Office is hoping a new rapid DNA system will help deputies fight crime a lot faster.

"It's a big deal because if we can get the people who are committing these crimes off the streets and arrested, then the crime rate should drop," Powers said.

The rapid DNA system processes DNA samples, which normally takes about a month, in just two hours.

"That lets us do things that we're not able to do and get the answers back quickly," Powers said.

The samples can come from the smallest evidence like cigarette butts, blood or cheek swabs, according to DNA specialist Annabelle Sim.

Powers says so far they've used rapid DNA in a few cases.

The results didn't lead to any arrests but did help clear several suspects, he said.

"Unfortunately, sometimes people get arrested and turns out they didn't commit the crime,” Powers said. “This helps stop that."

Powers says the goal is to make the machine the first piece of equipment in a new fusion center which will allow local law enforcement agencies to do DNA testing in one place.

Greensboro, High Point and Gibsonville police are three of about 10 agencies which will use the machine once the fusion center is opened.

The sheriff's office expects the fusion center to be up and running within a year.

Powers says Guilford County Sheriff's Office is the only law enforcement agency in the state with the rapid DNA system.