US Cellular's DNA ID kits

Wednesday, September 15th 2004, 2:37 pm
By: News On 6

You might expect a cell phone company to give tips on how to safely use a cell phone. But would you expect them to give out DNA identification kits?

That's what US Cellular has been doing at safety fairs. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright collects her DNA and talks to a crime scene tech to see if it really makes a difference.

Let's see what the first thing you do is. After the medical and dental information and photo, first is DNA. Swab method. Swab the inside of your mouth with a clean swab. Okay. The kit walks you through the process step by step; the swab needs to dry for an hour before you put it into an envelope.

Next, are several strands of your hair, preferably with the root attached. It goes into a tiny envelope provided in the kit.

There's also an area to fill out your description, including scars or birthmarks, and the names of your doctor and dentist.

Finally, your fingerprints. They include the ink strips so you put your finger on the ink then roll it onto the card, following the label for each finger and your thumbs.

Once you're done with the DNA ID kit, store it in a cool, dry place and it'll last for 35 years. But put it into a freezer and the DNA samples will last indefinitely. Once you have the samples for you or your children, do they actually do any good, especially since collecting seems pretty basic. Tulsa Police Cpl Gene Watkins: “Just the swab itself is all we need to get evidence. It's painless and it helps us otherwise we might never ID the person."

Fingerprint and DNA databases exist, but most people in them are government employees and convicted criminals. That leaves out a lot of people who could become victims. "Anything you can write down helps. Rather it's a serial number, some people think that's silly, but, it can help us solve a burglary and this is just a way for us to ID you.”

The theory is to expect the best, but be prepared for the worse. The director of the Tulsa crime lab told the News on 6, that keeping the samples in a cool, dry place is probably better than in a freezer than can cycle on and off and has moisture.

The kits are available at periodic US Cellular safety fairs.