Well, well, well, who’d have thought that USN&WR writers are such avid readers of The Williams Record that they found the now-famous “poo” editorial all by themselves. And how interesting that over at College Confidential, the Williams section—which had gone into near-hibernation after the admissions letters went out—now has a thriving thread on this issue (ca. 2000 visits at last count) and is being flogged onward by the Disgruntled Williams Alumni Association and their various and sundry sock-puppets. Their glee is so evident that I wonder if we couldn’t solve the bio-cleanup problem by simply getting those two posted from the campus, or at least from the stairwells and bathrooms. Just kidding.

But seriously, folks, regardless of whether or not this problem is unique to Williams (I don’t think it is—I also don’t think that the possibility that the perps are outsiders has been given enough consideration–as one CC poster noted, at least several of the incidents occurred over the Purple Valley UF tournament weekend), the fact is, that as we know in politics, you have to respond to all smears (sorry.) So, I propose that the college employ modern science and get to the bottom of this (sorry).

I know that civil libertarians will consider this a violation of privacy or a big brother intrusion, but even if students themselves don’t volunteer for exculpatory testing, at least an analysis of the piles of DNA evidence would answer a few questions, not the least of which in importance is “how many different people are engaged in this?” As it is currently being reported in TWR, USN&WR, and CC, it is made to sound as if Williams students are a bunch of sphincterless Rhesus monkeys, when we may well be talking about one or two or three students–or even non-students–who have serious alcohol/drug/mental problems.

So, I present the following article for your consideration:

Until recently, DNA evidence was used almost solely to investigate violent offenses such as murders or rapes — CSI kinds of stuff. The Department of Justice hopes to expand that focus. As part of a five-year, $1 billion White House initiative, the department has launched an 18-month program in five major cities to get cops to apply CSI-style DNA-analysis techniques to routine crimes.

Law enforcement officials described some of the results at the annual National Institute of Justice conference here Monday.

“We weren’t using biological evidence on property crimes,” says Detective Philip Stanford of the Denver Police Department, one of the departments that received a grant under the program last October. When they started, they noticed results immediately, apprehending a husband-and-wife team of suspected serial burglars. The smoking gun in the case turned out to be a cigarette butt; one of the thieves had left it at the scene with his saliva on it.

And it’s not just cigarettes that burglary detectives are on the lookout for now. Anything, it turns out, can be evidence in a property crime: a mucus-covered tissue, an empty Coke can, a leftover sandwich, even a puddle of vomit. The strangest evidence Stanford has collected was a ball of wax he dislodged from the earpiece of a two-way radio.

In Denver and the other areas participating in the program — Los Angeles; Phoenix; Topeka, Kansas; and Orange County, California — the main challenge has been getting police to rethink the way they look at crime scenes, interrogate suspects and gather evidence.

“Before it was drugs, guns and clothing,” Stanford says of the evidence cops used to haul back to the station. “Now you’ve got guys walking in here with … half-eaten pizza.”[…]

Around 800 police in Denver had to be trained in new methods of evidence gathering, according to Stanford. Cops learned to pull on their latex gloves and look everywhere for clues. In the garbage. In the fridge. Maybe even, alas, in the toilet. Police in other cities have done the same.

“The devil is in the details,” says Kathy Browning, a social-science analyst at the National Institute of Justice, or NIJ, the research-and-development branch of the Justice Department that oversees the DNA program and hands out grants. “This isn’t just about more lab technicians. This a new way of thinking about crimes.”


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