According to the Gaston Gazette in North Carolina, a new state law went into effect at the beginning of the month making it legal for arresting officers to collect DNA from the inside of an arrestees mouth.
DNA can only be taken from individuals accused of specific crimes:
- First and Second Degree Murder
- Rape & Other Sexual Offenses
- Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Kidnapping or Abduction
- First and Second Degree Burglary
- Armed Robbery
- Stalking & Cyber Stalking
- Any offense that would require a person to register as a sex offender
The North Carolina statute stated that DNA collection can be made at the time of arrest or when the person is fingerprinted. A DNA sample is taken by a cheek swab, unless a court order authorizes a DNA blood sample.
“I think it’s appropriate and hopefully it will lead to more investigative solving of new and old crimes.” Stated Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger.
“I think it’s too early to say whether it will be a successful program or not. Obviously there are positives. You are collecting DNA that is very valuable when comparing people to crime scenes.” Stated Gaston County Police Capt. J.D. Ramey.
The new statute further stated that it would remove a person’s DNA if two conditions were met: First, if charges are dismissed, acquitted, or convicted of a lesser charge. Second, if the person is not required to have their DNA in the database based on another provision of law.
This is a big undertaking for the police departments in North Carolina, but it has important values. It will quickly exonerate the innocent or implicate the guilty. The big, lingering question is that what kind of backlog is this going to generate for the DNA labs?
What do you think about police taking DNA samples at the point of arrest?