Behind the Scenes at the Miami-Dade Police Forensic Biology Section

The rooms inside the Forensic Biology Section at the Miami-Dade Police Department are some of the most sterile, most protected areas inside the police headquarter building. 

Anyone who enters the section, including detectives, must submit a DNA swab.

Some who work inside the Forensic Biology Section asked to have their identity protected because of the type of cases they work on.

“One day you could be working on a serial killer and the next day you could be working a robbery case,” said Jeffrey, Laboratory Manager at the Miami-Dade Police Department. 

These criminalists examine biological material like blood and other bodily fluids to generate DNA profiles. The profiles are then put into the Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS. 

In Florida, DNA samples are taken from people arrested of a felony and also gathered at crime scenes. CODIS enables federal, state, and local forensic labs to exchange and compare profiles electronically.

“It helps solve crimes that would have gone unsolved before,” said John, CODIS Administrator at Miami-Dade Police Department.

DNA profiles entered into the system are searched daily. If DNA samples match that’s known as a hit, pinpointing a potential suspect. 

A recent example of CODIS at work is the case of Joseph Cody Davis. Davis was arrested in 2018 accused of raping 3 different women in 1990.

A warrant shows he was arrested this year in January on drug trafficking charges, meaning he would have had to submit a DNA sample in jail.

In August, there was a hit in CODIS that police say linked his DNA profile to three sexual battery cases from 1990. 

"We’ve been granted a grant to go back and do research and determine the number of sexual battery cases that had not been worked,” said Jeffrey. 

Thanks to the grant and the hard work of the Forensic Biology Section, the team has generated about 250 recent hits in CODIS on sexual battery cases alone. 

The CODIS Administrator estimates the department gets about 600 hits per year on all crimes. 

“I’m happy that I can help take the criminals off the street by providing good work. It’s not just about catching them at the end, but we have to do good work in the lab so when you go to court they can’t undermine what you did,” said Victor Murillo, Criminalist II.  

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