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Proposal: Police can collect DNA for felons

Published March 13, 2014 5:37 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In addition to taking a mugshot and a fingerprint, police may be collecting DNA samples from those accused of a felony at the time of booking under a bill that passed the Senate Thursday.

HB212 needs only the governor's signature to become law.

Senate sponsor Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said the DNA would not be processed until after probable cause is established by way of a preliminary hearing, which makes Utah's collection of DNA sampling unique.

The bill sidestepped some concerns of privacy violation because forensic specialists explained that a DNA sample doesn't expose personal medical information, such as predisposition to disease. An earlier version had also contemplated collecting samples from those charged with some misdemeanors, but that provision is not in the bill that passed.

House sponsor Sen. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said collecting a DNA sample is the 21st-century version of fingerprinting and reduces racial bias, prevents potential crimes and also exonerates those falsely imprisoned.

Passage of the bill follows hearings full of witness testimony by crime victims including Ed Smart and two daughters of Danielle Omer, who was raped and murdered in 1999.

Amy McDonald