Police departments around the country are quietly building up DNA databases. You’re probably thinking this isn’t news. Of course the police collect DNA from the individuals they arrest and from convicted felons.
But this is different.
This is happening in smaller cities and towns. Places that can’t afford to coordinate with large public databases. But they can afford to work with private labs to build their own DNA database.
Here’s the troubling thing. They aren’t just including DNA from criminals — those who have been arrested for or convicted of a crime. They’re also including DNA from people who are engaging in suspicious behavior, like loitering on a street corner. Or from people who simply have a routine interaction with an officer — like a traffic stop.
The officer will ask the person of interest — you, for example — to provide a DNA sample. Once they’ve swabbed the inside of your cheek, they’ll give you a consent agreement to sign, and they might take your fingerprints.
Once that happens, your information will be entered into their database.
What’s important to understand is that the police don’t have the right to collect your DNA sample without your consent (unless you’re arrested or convicted). But they don’t always phrase their request like you have the option to refuse.
Understand your rights and know that this is becoming a thing, so if you’re ever requested to provide your DNA, simply refuse. If the officer pressures you, ask if you’re being arrested for a crime. That should get him to back off.