Last year, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that it was constitutional for law enforcement officers to collect DNA samples without a warrant at the time of a booking, akin to how officers currently collect fingerprints in attempt to link the accused to potential crimes.
In a modern twist the same DNA could be uploaded to a national database to allow for quick and easy connection to crimes.
As one might imagine, the potential for solving previously cold cases excites those in the law enforcement community, but there are those with reservations; concerned that law enforcement might become overzealous with the collection of genetic materials.
What is clear is that DNA collection is becoming a popular law enforcement tool. Currently, 28 states collect DNA samples of those charged with felonies. Utah, however collects DNA samples only after someone has been convicted of a felony.
Representative Steve Eliason (Republican – Sandy) would change this practice with HB 212 – DNA Collection Amendments and allow law enforcement to take samples at the time of booking for any felony offense.
Though there should always be concerns of overreach by law enforcement, society largely appears to feel that the collection of DNA samples is akin to the collection of fingerprints when booking a suspect and that it is another tool for law enforcement. By expanding the reach of when law enforcement can collect samples, Eliason is clearly wishing to expand this capability and make Utah the 29th state to collect samples.
There is a very small fiscal note associated with this bill, an estimated $65,000 a year, and it was popular in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee, passing out of that committee with a 10-0 vote.
To contact Representative Eliason, click here or call 801-673-4748.
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Need for Legislation:
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker