BCPD to stop collecting DNA
Baltimore County Police ceased collecting DNA samples at the scene of the crime from arrested individuals April 27.
In a statement issued by the BCPD, Police Chief James Johnson expressed that he has “serious concerns” with the case that made the ruling, known as Alonzo Jay King Jr. vs. State of Maryland.
Johnson has instructed officers to note on arrest reports for potential future DNA collection if suspects appear to be connected to other felonies.
The debate surrounding the ruling brings to light the conflict of community interests and individual rights.
Supporters of the ruling claim that collecting DNA at the time of arrest violates a suspect’s 4th Amendment right against warrantless and unreasonable searches and seizures.
“It definitely creates a grey area,” sports management major Ashley Nalley said. “It’s a lot like collecting finger prints but I think it may be one step too far.”
But one of the main concerns brought up by those who wish to see the ruling overturned is that the collection of DNA can help to solve previously unsolved cases where only DNA was left behind.
“If law enforcement can fingerprint arrestees to confirm identity and to determine if they are wanted on other charges, how is DNA analysis doing anything different?” anthropology professor Dana Kollmann said.
The BCPD news release cited the case of a Baltimore County man who was arrested and convicted of first-degree rape to support their opinion.
After being arrested in 2009, the man was then consequently convicted for two other rapes because the DNA collected matched the DNA left behind at previous crime scenes.
“We got this criminal off the streets for good,” Johnson said. “Without the DNA evidence, it’s possible that we would not have been able to do that.”
Kollmann said that the ruling is a drastic change.
“The Maryland DNA Collection Act guidelines even provide that arrestee DNA samples can be collected by reasonable force, if necessary,” she said.