DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit – ProPublica

by Lauren Kirchner

Police in Florida and other states are building up private DNA databases, in part by collecting voluntary samples from people not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime.
Freddrick Harran is the public safety director of the Bensalem Township Police Department in Pennsylvania, which has used the DNA program to solve burglaries. “This has probably been the greatest innovation in local law enforcement since the bulletproof vest,” he said. (Greg Kahn, special to ProPublica)

Police in Florida and other states are building up private DNA databases, in part by collecting voluntary samples from people not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime.

The five teenage boys were sitting in a parked car in a gated community in Melbourne, Florida, when a police officer pulled up behind them.

Officer Justin Valutsky closed one of the rear doors, which had been ajar, and told them to stay in the car. He peered into the drivers’ side window of the white Hyundai SUV and asked what the teens were doing there. It was a Saturday night in March 2015 and they told Valutsky they were visiting a friend for a sleepover.

Valutsky told them there had been a string of car break-ins recently in the area. Then, after questioning them some more, he made an unexpected demand: He asked which one of them wanted to give him a DNA sample.

After a long pause, Adam, a slight 15-year-old with curly hair and braces, said, “Okay, I guess I’ll do it.” Valutsky showed Adam how to rub a long cotton swab around the inside of his cheek, then gave him a consent form to sign and took his thumbprint. He sealed Adam’s swab in an envelope. Then he let the boys go.

Telling the story later, Adam would say of the officer’s request, “I thought it meant we had to.”

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Source: DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit – ProPublica

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