For Cops, DNA Databases Are the New Fingerprints

Departments around the country keeping profiles
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2013 11:09 AM CDT
For Cops, DNA Databases Are the New Fingerprints
Many police departments are building DNA databases.   (Shutterstock)

Across the country, local cops are quietly building DNA databases in much the same way they might build a fingerprint catalog, the New York Times reports. New York City has the genetic info of some 11,000 suspects on file, and Orange County, Calif., makes even that trove look tiny, with 90,000 profiles. Many of those samples came willingly from defendants as part of deals with prosecutors, but others were collected without suspects' knowledge. And the trend is sure to accelerate thanks to this Supreme Court decision.

Local law enforcement officials are sick of relying on the bigger, more established state and federal DNA databases, and say keeping their own allows them to respond faster to crimes—and keep tabs on more relevant people. But privacy advocates are worried. "We have been warning law enforcement that when public attention began to focus on these rogue unregulated databases, people would be disturbed," says an Innocence Project executive. "Law enforcement has just gone ahead … in an unregulated fashion." (Read more DNA stories.)

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