DNA analysis machine helps Miami Beach police to quickly identify suspects

Police receive results within 2 hours

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach police announced a new initiative Wednesday to help solve crimes faster, and they're teaming up with Miami-Dade police for the new partnership.

Miami Beach crime scene technicians have had a new tool since April that allows them to test a DNA profile and get the results in less than two hours.

Authorities said it's a fast and fairly accurate field test that consists of DNA samples that are run through a rapid DNA analysis machine.

"It's going to change how we do business, and we think that's great," Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said. 

Oates is on the front line of the new technology as his department is one of the first in the country to test out and tweak proper handling procedures.

"The notion that in my lifetime -- my career that I would see us able to get a DNA profile in less than two hours from  an instrument -- I never would have thought that was possible, but that day is here," Oates said.

The machine has been in the hands of the Miami Beach Police Department for the past three months as part of a pilot program, and it has already helped lead police in the right direction on some pretty big cases.

On Memorial Day weekend, witnesses helped police identify a suspect in connection with a shooting at Sixth Street and Collins Avenue.

A swab from the gun run through the new machine confirmed that police had the right guy.

Police said the machine also helped them arrest hotel worker Angel Cuesta, who they said took a car last month from the valet area of his employer for a convenience store run.

Police said he then fatally struck a woman with the car before taking off.

"One of the real values of this machine, that you might not think of if you're in the police business, is the false leads that won't be chased down with a lot of investigative energy, because the machine will tell you right away that's not the suspect's blood," Oates said.

The police department, like many others, usually has to wait months before receiving DNA results from the county or state-run crime labs.

The machine is obviously one way to help cut through that red tape. The partnership with Miami-Dade police's crime lab means that results sent by Miami Beach will be expedited.

Each test run through the machine would normally cost several hundred dollars, but during the one-year pilot program, the device is on loan at no cost to the city.

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