Mayor Adams launches DNA gun crimes unit as NYC remains on edge over shootings

Mayor Adams launched what he characterized as the country’s “first ever” forensic DNA gun crime unit on Thursday as the city remains on edge over a spate of senseless shootings, including this week’s cold-blooded killing of a young mother strolling her baby on a Manhattan sidewalk.

Housed within the Office of the City Medical Examiner, the new unit will be made up of 24 full-time criminologists tasked with processing evidence for DNA in gun crime cases, Adams said at a press conference outside the OCME’s headquarters in Manhattan.

“We are saying to those committing gun crimes: Science is coming for you,” Adams said, “and we’re going to use this science to get you off our streets.”

The OCME already has about 150 scientists on staff processing forensic evidence in a range of criminal cases, from sexual assaults and rapes to shootings and assaults.

But the new $2.4 million effort will be dedicated solely to gun crimes, allowing evidence processing times in such cases to be reduced from an average of 60 to 30 days, said Chief Medical Examiner Jason Graham, who brought Adams on a tour of the OCME’s lab facilities before the press conference. The expediting will help bring cases to speedier resolutions, whether it be convictions or acquittals, Adams said.

“It’s the first time in the nation that you’ll see something of this magnitude,” the mayor said.

Graham said his office has already identified 10 of the 24 candidates for the new gun crimes lab, and vowed that the remaining posts will be filled in short order.

The mayor — who wore a white lab coat for the tour and jokingly urged reporters to refer to him as “Dr. Adams” — issued a clarion call for people to apply for the last vacancies.

“If you want to part of the modern day CSI, please come onboard,” he said.

The new OCME scientists will have their work cut out for them.

According to agency data, the OCME processes 50,000 individual pieces of crime scene evidence every year. In 2021, the office dealt with 2,600 gun crime cases, a 59% increase as compared to 2020.

Shooting rates in the city have dropped slightly in recent months, but remain sharply elevated when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The perceived prevalence of gun violence has also been fueled by a string of horrific incidents in recent weeks, including the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old woman who was pushing her 3-month-old baby in a stroller on the Upper East Side Tuesday night.

“Just a horrible shooting,” Adams said.

Adams told reporters that the new DNA gun crime unit will fill a “gap” in the city’s crackdown on gun violence and credited Phil Banks, his deputy mayor of public safety, with coming up with the idea for the new unit during last year’s mayoral transition.

“His wisdom and knowledge just really helped us,” the mayor said.

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