New Crime Lab will catch more criminals

If you've ever seen the television shows Law & Order or CSI, you know that one of the most powerful crime-solving tools we have is forensic DNA testing. From a single strand of hair, from the sweat under the brim of a baseball cap, from even the saliva on a cigarette butt, detectives can collect valuable clues that will help them crack the toughest cases and put criminals away.
New York City has long been a leader in analyzing DNA from crime scenes. Last week, we cut the ribbon on a new, state-of-the-art DNA laboratory at Bellevue - a project that was originally started by Mayor Giuliani. As the largest and one of the most advanced DNA labs in the country, it will help us employ the latest science to even greater effect and ensure that New York remains the safest big city in the nation.
Whereas before we had the capability to do DNA analysis only in about 3,000 criminal cases a year - which were mostly homicides and sexual assaults - this new lab allows us to handle more than 20,000 cases a year - including less violent crimes like robberies, auto thefts, and home burglaries. That means we will be able to catch more criminals before they can break the law again.
And to give us a better chance of identifying the source of any DNA evidence that's collected, last year we helped push through important State legislation that expands the number of profiles in the State's DNA database. This year we are going to push for a full expansion of the database to include DNA testing for all convicted criminals, so that we will have both the resources and the tools to make this science really work for us.
At the same time, we continue cracking down on one of the most violent crimes in our city - gun violence. Our comprehensive effort has involved a three-pronged strategy of tougher enforcement of the law, innovative litigation targeting gun dealers who repeatedly sell to criminals, and new legislation that creates stiffer penalties to prevent more gun violence.
Last year, for instance, we succeeded in pushing through the State Legislature a law that makes New York the toughest state in the union for criminals to carry an illegal gun. Now, if you are convicted of carrying an illegal loaded handgun, you will serve a minimum of 3+ years behind bars. No exceptions. In addition, sentences could run as long as 15 years.
There is a good reason why the penalties are so severe: Despite the fact that we have reduced crime in the city by 27 percent over the past six years - driving it down to a 40-year low - more than 300 New Yorkers were killed last year by guns, and nearly all of those guns were illegal. Across the country, more than 30 people on average are killed by guns each day - that is the equivalent of a Virginia Tech massacre every 24 hours.
This has got to stop - and that's why we're trying to get out the message that if you are caught carrying an illegal gun in our city, you're going to go prison for a long time. You may have seen some of our subway ads that are getting the word out. There will be more hard-hitting ads - created by the Citizens Crime Commission - appearing soon on subways and buses, on phone kiosks, and in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
They will all carry the same simple message - a message that we hope will force people to think twice about carrying an illegal weapon: &#8220Guns equal Prison.” It is that simple. Don't let someone you know throw their life away.

More from Around New York