Baltimore Co. Police to Halt DNA Collections of Suspects

The immediate shift in policy comes just days after the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the practice was unconstitutional.

Baltimore County police said they have, effective immediately, stopped collecting DNA samples from suspects arrested and charged with certain violent crimes.

The policy switch comes after Maryland Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that part of a state law that allows law enforcement to collect DNA from anyone arrested for a crime of violence is unconstitutional. The case overturned a rape conviction and life sentence.

The court ruled in a 5-2 vote that Wicomico County police violated Fourth Amendment rights, restricting unreasonable searches, when Alonzo J. King Jr. was arrested in 2009 and police took a sample of his DNA, according to court documents.

Despite the move by the Baltimore County police, Chief James Johnson, , is hopeful the court’s decision will eventually be turned over on appeal.

“Our job is public safety, and DNA collection is an invaluable tool for helping us protect citizens from criminals,” Johnson said in a statement. “I have serious concerns about this ruling.”

According to a Baltimore County news release, Johnson is still instructing officers to note the suspects’ eligibility to collect DNA on their arrest reports to make it easier to gather such samples in the future, should the ruling be reversed on appeal.

Johnson, the release continued, believes DNA collections from arrested suspects have led to many key arrests.

In 2010, according to the release, a 42-year-old man was convicted of a 2004 rape of a 13-year-old and a 2000 rape of a 14-year-old.

Police gained DNA evidence from that case in February 2009, when the man was arrested for the sexual assault of his 7- and 8-year-old female cousins, according to the release.

“We got this criminal off the streets for good,” Johnson said in a statement. “Without the DNA evidence, it’s possible that we would not have been able to do that.”

Dennis Gilpin April 29, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Buck, On that count you are right. Hard core criminals welcome an opportunity to bend the constitution. We only want to use it as it was intended...to protect the innocent. I'm sure there will be changes by the supreme court so that DNA can bring those to justice who have evaded it so long.
A.K. April 30, 2012 at 03:00 AM
According to the DNA act in order for it to be taken you have to be charged with a violent crime (murder burglary rape etc.) or you have to already be a felon. This does not apply for a misdemeanor (assault etc). They didn't have the right to even take his dna. A CO who works at the jail who is not trained or certified to do so stated she took it, but that never happened. They came with warrant 1st time, but the other 5 times they came to get it they didn't have warrant. That's when all this bs came about . The judge whom heard this case and sentenced him to life stated to him a few years prior "if I see you in my court room again, im going to put you away for good." That's what she did. She didn't want to hear that his rights were violated nor did She want to hear about the other ones that didn't match. Shthat's for the prosecution to prove. Im not saying they shouldn't collect it from felons, but I am sying they need to abide by the rules that they set forth in regards to the dna act. They're going buck wild with it bc they've been able to get away with it and it's about time smeone puts their foot down and protect the rights of the citizens whether they're free or locked up.
Buck Harmon April 30, 2012 at 01:35 PM
This is why I believe that before DNA usage is broadened , much more training is needed at the collection level...a bad, or dull tool in the toolbox is a tool that doesn't work well. The operator of the tool must be HIGHLY trained to get the most accurate, reliable result.
AMO, Esq May 02, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Fingerprinting is a lot less intrusive then taking someone's blood/DNA. Also, you have an absolute right to refuse a breathalyzer test and in most cases, you should!
Other Tim May 02, 2012 at 11:38 PM
All it takes to get a DNA sample is a q-tip to the inside of the mouth. Lot easier than fingerprinting. "You have an absolute right to refuse a breathalyzer test" ? Only if you don't want to drive anymore.


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