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New technology lets state crime lab analyze evidence, tie it to crimes much faster

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah - It's National Forensic Science Week and the Utah State Crime Laboratory has a couple of new pieces of equipment that should help solve crimes faster.

Both are high-tech tools to complement the work police do in the field so they can quickly identify suspects and analyze evidence.

One is called "Brass Tax."

When there's a crime involving a firearm and police are able to retrieve shell casings, this system will quickly analyze them and let detectives know where the gun came from and if it ties into any other crimes.

The other new tool is called "Direct Analysis in Real Time" or DART.

Crime lab techs say the quarter-of-a-million dollar machine will revolutionize evidence processing, in particular the identification of illegal drugs, simply by waving a very small sample in front of the detection system.

That could actually save the lives of officers responding to homemade pill mills and new drugs like Carfentanil which can be lethal to the touch even in amounts as small as a microgram.

"It's a game-changer," Utah State Crime Lab Director Jay Henry said.  "It kind of snuck up on us, we knew we wanted it, but now we're realizing not only did we want it, but we need it because it makes us faster and quicker."

Henry went on to say that DNA analysis is also much faster due to the use of robots, which are able to review streams of data non-stop.

He says that's critical as employees plow through the backlog of rape kits and deal with the more than 1,500 new cases they're expected to receive this year.