Supreme Court Upholds DNA Swabbing by Local Law Enforcement - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Supreme Court Upholds DNA Swabbing by Local Law Enforcement

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A US Supreme Court decision has some fearing law enforcement officers could invade their privacy.

The high court judges ruled Monday taking DNA samples upon arrest for a "serious offense" does not violate the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches.

DNA sampling is already a common practice in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman shows us how the process works.

"When we book folks into the Cass County Jail, as their booking procedure (for a felony) they take finger prints, they take a photograph and they swab for DNA submission," Pat Claus, Deputy Chief of the Fargo Police Department, said.

If you're arrested for a felony crime in North Dakota, or if you're convicted of a felony in Minnesota, then your genetic makeup is on file.

"DNA is the basic code to your life, I mean it defines your eye color, your hair color, everything about you, it's the blue print to who you are," Claus said.

But, DNA sampling has long been routine for county jails around here; and officers say it's the most efficient way of linking suspects to crimes.

"You can leave DNA by brushing your skin against something, you can lose hair with the root intact, you can be sweating," he said.

The Supreme Court compares it to finger printing or photographing, but the information in your strands of DNA is known as the gold standard for evidence gathering.

"We have a greater chance of locating someone probably by DNA than we would by finger prints."

Officers say it's a unique tool in investigations. From cold cases to common crimes, the makeup of your genes just might help make up our justice system.

Though it does serve a purpose for investigations around here, the privacy debate has been a topic to consider for lawmakers in North Dakota and Minnesota. Both states have scaled back their policy to reduce the number of people in their DNA database.

The topic was also split amongst justices in the Supreme Court. The ruling came down 5-4.

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