Familial DNA merits careful use

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  • Updated: April 8, 2011 - 8:55 PM

Lawmakers must set parameters for new crime-solving tool.

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paulpriceApr. 9, 11 5:57 AM

Yes, this is a powerful tool for crime investigation, and therein, lies the problem, as the editorial partially points out. Many, if not most most states, limit the collection of dna samples to serious levels of perpetration, but there is a push for lessening the level thereby broadening the database and exposure of the citizenry to law enforcement investigation. (I believe there have been suggestions that samples should be taken from anyone who has been arrested, and being arrested is not conviction.) At some point, third, fourth, and fifth degree cousins could be investigated who may have just a misdemeanor in their background. These investigations would, in most circumstances, not be "custodial" interrogations, but considered "consensual" questioning, i.e., supposedly free of coercion. Yet, there are serious questions as to whether any encounter between law enforcement and a citizen is truly consensual, though courts have to draw lines somewhere. Nonetheless, broadening the database broadens ever further the population scope of the investigation, the numbers of citizens brought into "consensual" contact with law enforcement and a type of surveillance. It becomes more and more like a "googling" of the citizenry. I have lived in neighborhoods where I have been enthusiastic for the increased police presence, but these developments merit close debate.

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