Department of Public Safety begins owed DNA collection

Troopers and local law enforcement actively working to collect owed DNA.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety and our local and state law enforcement partners have begun collecting nearly 20,000 DNA samples that are lawfully owed to the State of Alaska. In August 2021, Governor Dunleavy announced the new initiative to collect all lawfully owed DNA that had been missed for a variety of reasons over the last 25 years.

Since August, the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alaska Department of Corrections, and other law enforcement agencies in Alaska have worked together to define the process that will allow for the collection.

In November 2021, an official memorandum of understanding was established between the Alaska Department of Public Safety and Alaska Department of Corrections to collect owed DNA during the booking process at state correctional facilities. In addition, the Department of Corrections has compared their list of individuals that are currently in custody or are on probation, pretrial, or parole supervision to ensure that those individuals’ DNA has been collected in situations where required.

Beginning in January 2022, the Alaska Department of Public Safety updated the Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) to alert law enforcement anytime they have contact with an individual that currently owes DNA. This alert will enable the law enforcement officer to collect the owed DNA during the contact.

In addition, each local law enforcement agency has been provided a list of individuals who are believed to live within their area of responsibility to begin proactive efforts to collect owed DNA. This effort was initially delayed due to supply chain issues related to the swabs and collection kits that are also used for COVID-19 testing.

Between the efforts of local and state law enforcement along with the Department of Corrections approximately 425 owed DNA samples have been collected from the owed DNA identified in August 2021.

“Today, we’re making progress with the first 425 DNA samples newly collected from people who were arrested or convicted of crimes like assault, robbery, murder, and manslaughter,” said Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy. “There’s no question that DNA evidence is an indispensable tool in the fight for justice. Collecting it has been the hard part, and I am grateful for the Troopers, Correctional Officers, Police Officers, and Probation Officers that are helping close this decades-old gap in an effort to make our state safer.”

“Collecting DNA that has been owed for decades will take time, but the Alaska Department of Public Safety, as well as our local and state law enforcement partners, are committed to ensuring that the law is followed and this DNA is collected,” said Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “This initiative will ensure that our DNA databases are up to date to not only ensure that offenders are properly identified, but also to help solve cold cases and other crimes that will bring closure to survivors.”

Alaskans that were arrested or convicted for certain crimes starting in 1995 that did not submit DNA upon arrest may be required to submit their DNA; they can visit to check if they have missing DNA. Individuals that believe that their DNA is currently owed to the State of Alaska can report to their nearest Alaska State Trooper post or local police department during normal business hours to submit their DNA.