Convicted sex offenders are often looked at in sexual assault cases where police have no obvious suspects.
So when Tacoma police detective Lindsey Wade realized not all of the offenders living at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island had DNA on file, she was troubled.
DNA is crucial for solving cold cases and some of the most violent sexual predators in Washington State were not listed in the Combined DNA Index Search (CODIS), which regularly runs known offenders’ DNA against DNA found at crime scenes.
Wade’s concerns were shared by the state, which then changed its policy to collect DNA from offenders as they were brought to SCC rather than when, or if, they were released.
There were 49 sex offenders who did not have DNA on file, including nine who had already died. Officials found four had DNA on file in other states, leaving them 36 offenders from which to request DNA.
A few employees at SCC were trained to collect DNA samples from the residents’ inner cheek with a small sponge. Some residents declined to give DNA but were later ordered by a court to provide a sample.
The last sample was collected in June 2013.
Wade talked with The News Tribune about the changes in procedure: