Over its first year of operation, a new gun crime unit within the city Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has cut the time for processing evidence in gun cases roughly in half, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Monday afternoon.
Where the office used to take up to 60 days to test and analyze evidence from gun-related crimes, it now takes 30 days or less, according to the mayor, meaning the Big Apple now has the fastest big city lab for testing and analyzing gun crime evidence. The timetable is measured from when a district attorney requests DNA testing to when OCME delivers a test report to the DA and NYPD.
The shortened turnaround time, Adams said, can be credited to the DNA Gun Crimes Unit his administration launched within OCME around this time last year, which had a stated goal of reducing the DNA testing timetable to under 30 days or less.
“I promised we would be the fastest lab to analyze and test evidence from gun crimes,” the mayor said during a June 26 news conference at the medical examiner’s office.
“New York City is now home to the fastest big city lab for testing and analyzing evidence,” he added. “This means those involved in gun crime cases are being brought to justice faster, and we are getting more guns off the street. We are saying to all those who commit gun crimes: the evidence doesn’t lie, science is coming for you faster than ever.”
Reducing crime and gun violence have both been central to Adams’ mayoralty since he took office in January 2022. And Adams has seen success in reducing gun violence, with a 25% drop in gun crimes so far this year compared to the same period in 2022, according to NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Edward Caban.
City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Graham said the expedited processing of evidence means the wheels of justice will move more quickly for both the guilty and the innocent.
“Faster testing results will help the criminal justice system resolve cases as quickly as possible,” Graham said. “Quicker turnaround times will also hasten answers to victims, families and communities who are affected by gun violence. And as with all our work, these findings may help convict the guilty or exonerate the innocent.”
When it was established last year, the unit was funded by $2.5 million, which allowed it to hire 24 forensic scientists over the past 12 months, according to the mayor’s office. It also paid for upgrades to lab management software, new equipment and supplies.
Those changes, Graham said, have helped the office overcome challenges to quickly testing and analyzing evidence from gun crimes: mainly caseloads and the complexity of cases themselves.
“The investment that the city made in building this gun crimes unit, that is what has taken that turnaround time and reduced it by half,” Graham said. “The most significant way that we accomplished this was by the infusion of staff. Those 24 scientists who were brought on were trained within the past year and are now actively doing the casework. We did make upgrades to our laboratory-wide systems and we also procured some additional supplies and equipment, but it was primarily the people.”