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Police Take Umbrage at Maryland DNA Ruling

Attorney general files motion asking the state's highest court to reconsider.

A recent state Court of Appeals ruling allowing Maryland police officers to take DNA from defendants is a setback to public safety, according to Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger.

“These DNA hits enable law enforcement to apprehend repeat offenders that prey upon our citizens, thereby making our communities safer for everyone,” Manger said.

The ruling affects state, county and local police jurisdictions.

In Takoma Park, which has its own police force separate from the county, DNA hits have solved cold cases. DNA also offers a chance to clear people of crimes, Takoma Park Police Chief Ronald Ricucci said.

"This is the biggest setback to law enforcement in 20 years," Ricucci said. "It's a sad day for law enforcement and it's a sad day for the judicial system."

Maryland State Police employees were notified Tuesday to immediately cease collection and analysis of anyone arrested and charged with a qualifying crime of violence, or first-, second- or third-degree burglary, or attempts to commit any of those crimes.

Law enforcement officials are calling on Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and overturn the ruling.

Gansler filed a motion Tuesday asking the Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling, the Gazette reported. The attorney general also asked the state court to stay its ruling until he can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Gazette.

Patch reader comments of police being able to take DNA from defendants arrested in certain crimes.

"MD now a days is such a dangerous state, we need all the tools we can to help preserve public safety," Jason Jones commented. "If that means giving DNA, I'm ready to take my swab."

Rockville resident Roald Schrack mused: If there is a fingerprint database, then why shouldn't there be a DNA database?

"It seems to me that all parties should desire the use of such a positive means of identification if the truth is what is desired," Schrack said. "The building up of a database of DNA samples would seem to be a good idea from any standpoint."

Peter Mork May 03, 2012 at 10:59 AM
"The building up of a database of DNA samples would seem to be a good idea from any standpoint." I cannot agree with Mr. Schrack. We pretend to live in a society that guarantees certain freedoms. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons ... shall not be violated." Forcibly obtaining DNA is a violation of that security. Keep in mind, the court did not say that police cannot obtain DNA. Only that they cannot obtain it simply because you were arrested (which does not imply guilt, only suspicion). "MD now a days is such a dangerous state, we need all the tools we can to help preserve public safety." I also disagree with Mr. Jones. The violent crime rate in MD for 2010 was 547.7 per 100,000 people. The last time the violent crime rate was this low was 1967. In fact, since 1992, the violent crime rate has been going down (excepting minor upticks in 1995 and 2000). From 1,000.1 per 100,000 people in 1992 down to 547.7 per 100,000 people in 2010. Thus, the assertion that MD is currently a "dangerous state" flies in the face of the data.

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