Thursday, June 13, 2013

deuterostome governance gettin tighter than dick's hatband

NYTimes | Slowly, and largely under the radar, a growing number of local law enforcement agencies across the country have moved into what had previously been the domain of the F.B.I. and state crime labs — amassing their own DNA databases of potential suspects, some collected with the donors’ knowledge, and some without it. 

And that trend — coming at a time of heightened privacy concerns after recent revelations of secret federal surveillance of telephone calls and Internet traffic — is expected only to accelerate after the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding a Maryland statute allowing the authorities to collect DNA samples from those arrested for serious crimes. 

These local databases operate under their own rules, providing the police much more leeway than state and federal regulations. And the police sometimes collect samples from far more than those convicted of or arrested for serious offenses — in some cases, innocent victims of crimes who do not necessarily realize their DNA will be saved for future searches. 

New York City has amassed a database with the profiles of 11,000 crime suspects. In Orange County, Calif., the district attorney’s office has 90,000 profiles, many obtained from low-level defendants who give DNA as part of a plea bargain or in return for having the charges against them dropped. In Central Florida, several law enforcement agencies have pooled their DNA databases. A Baltimore database contains DNA from more than 3,000 homicide victims. 

These law enforcement agencies are no longer content to rely solely on the highly regulated network of state and federal DNA databases, which have been more than two decades in the making and represent one of the most significant developments in the history of law enforcement in this country. 

The reasons vary. Some police chiefs are frustrated with the time it can take for state crime labs to test evidence and enter DNA profiles into the existing databases. Others want to compile DNA profiles from suspects or low-level offenders long before their DNA might be captured by the state or national databases, which typically require conviction or arrest. 

“Unfortunately, what goes into the national database are mostly reference swabs of people who are going to prison,” said Jay Whitt of the company DNA:SI Labs, which sells DNA testing and database services to police departments. “They’re not the ones we’re dealing with day in day out, the ones still on the street just slipping under the radar.” 

The rise in these local databases has aroused concerns among some critics, worried about both the lax rules governing them and the privacy issues they raise.


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Joyce M said...

This is what can go wrong...Blanket that may tie Darryl Littlejohn to Imette St. Guillen's murder may contain his brother's DNA
Read more:
People do use other's identities when arrested. Or in this case, there could be planted evidence. The LAPD sent a woman to prison by planting her fingerprints at an arson scene. She was later set free and the offending officer prosecuted, but it took years.

CNu said...

Obviously then, the FBI needs to put together a national, standards-based CSI-21 - bringing together the best-trained, best-educated minds and practitioners to instill the uniform federal application of standards required to make this work. ;^)

The behavioral genomics piece has to be locked down tight, as well so we can have the whole pre-crime capability in place