Nearly 2,000 DNA samples collected at Oklahoma jails in the last five months

More than 50 county jails across the state have received training from the OSBI on the process. Of the 1,855 samples collected, there have been hits in 27 previously unsolved cases, including a homicide case and a rape case.

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The kit provided to jails by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for DNA collection. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier
About two-thirds of county jails in Oklahoma have received training from state investigators on how to collect DNA from the recently arrested, and more than 1,000 samples have been entered into the FBI’s DNA database.

However, the majority of those samples are coming from Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, according to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Brook Arbeitman.

Arbeitman said 51 counties have been trained on collecting DNA from recently arrested inmates, collections that have resulted in 1,855 DNA samples — more than 1,200 of which have been input into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, database.

Of the 1,226 entered samples, 27 have come back as “hits” on DNA collected from previous unsolved cases, Arbeitman said. All 27 of those hits have come from arrestees in Tulsa and Oklahoma counties and the majority have been burglary cases, she said.

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“Although, I will say there’s been one homicide hit and and one rape hit,” she said. Both hits came from DNA profiles collected in Oklahoma County, though jail spokesman Mark Opgrande said he didn’t believe either the rape or homicide had occurred in Oklahoma County.

“The hits came from our jail but the cases aren’t necessarily here,” he said. “In fact they don’t tell us anything about the hits unless it’s our case.”

The Oklahoma County Jail began collecting DNA samples in December, and the Tulsa County Jail began collecting samples in January. Other jails have received training, though not all are collecting samples yet, Arbeitman said.

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Opgrande. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

“But I think the hits are proof that the system is working as intended,” she said. “We’re getting the desired results.”

The DNA collection was made legal in 2016 after a bill by Lee Denney, R-Cushing, was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin. However, there was no funding available for the kits, training and testing, so it wasn’t until the OSBI obtained a $740,000 federal grant last year that the DNA collection began.

While proponents have said the process should clear up some unsolved crimes, critics have argued that collecting DNA from people merely accused of a crime constitutes a civil rights violation. Nevertheless, more than half the states in the nation do some form of DNA collecting of recent arrestees, and attempts to rollback the law in other states have all failed.

Opgrande said the Oklahoma County Jail collects about 20 samples a day, though he expects that number to dwindle in the near future.

“We have so many repeat offenders in and out of the jail, at some point we’re going to have most of their DNA already on file,” he said. “But right now we’re doing a pretty good number each day.”

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan has two kids, three dogs, and no time to himself. He's fueled by QuikTrip and Twitter. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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