Forget “Stop and Frisk” — Cops Across US Collecting DNA of Innocent People in “Stop and Swabs”

cop-dnaBy Claire Bernish

Without laws to guide them, police around the country have begun collecting people’s DNA — even when no crime has been committed — using private labs which then store the genetic material for unknown periods to make identification simple in the event a crime is committed in the future.

Known generally as “stop and spit,” the practice of requesting the DNA of adults and juveniles during routine traffic stops and even basic interactions with police, ProPublica reports, is not only wholly unregulated and unlegislated, it is alarmingly common.

“Over the last decade,” writes Lauren Kirchner for ProPublica, “collecting DNA from people who are not charged with — or even suspected of — any particular crime has become an increasingly routine practice for police in smaller cities” in Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

For instance, Kirchner explained, police in Branford, Connecticut, are “instructed to request DNA from people they merely observe acting inexplicably or strangely.”

But because no legislation or legal precedent protects people from this frighteningly invasive practice, nothing would stop police departments in other cities and states from collecting genetic evidence without just cause.

“In Florida law, basically, if we can ask consent, and they give it, we can obtain it,” Commander Heath Sanders, head of investigations for the Melbourne Police Department, told ProPublica. “We’re not going to be walking down the street and asking a five-year-old to stick out his tongue. That’s just not reasonable. But let’s say a kid’s 15, 16 years old, we can ask for consent without the parents.”

While Fourth Amendment precedents mandate reasonable suspicion of an actual crime be present before requiring a search and seizure — in this context, for a person to fork over their DNA — asking someone to consent to voluntarily swab the inside of their cheek has yet to be thoroughly tested in court.

Departments in the four states mentioned boast collecting DNA consensually has assisted in solving crime at an unprecedented rate — but with nothing governing how, when, or who police can ask for consent, thousands of otherwise innocent people now have their genetic information on file.

Frederick Harran, Director of Public Safety for Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania — where even the thin excuse of someone ‘acting suspiciously’ could cause an officer to request DNA — told Kirchner in just four years, consensual collection cut burglaries by 42 percent. Bensalem partners with private lab Bode Cellmark Forensics, which the township funds using equally controversial drug asset forfeiture profits.

“This has probably been the greatest innovation in local law enforcement since the bulletproof vest. It stops crime in its tracks,” Harran asserted. “So why everyone’s not doing it, I don’t know.”

Although Harran believes these private databases ‘should establish their own best practices,’ without firm rules delineating DNA collection, police departments and cities could easily overstep privacy and rights boundaries.

“There’s no laws, there’s nothing,” he continued. “We’re in uncharted territory. There’s nothing governing what we’re doing.”

Consensual DNA collection, in essence, has become the wild west of the police state’s ever-expanding presence in our lives.

Constitutional rights advocates and attorneys are understandably quite concerned about the collection of DNA on a voluntary basis when no suspicion of the commission of a crime exists, particularly in the case of juveniles, which, as University of Arizona law professor Jason Kreag warned, could create “a coercive environment.”

“The laws and legislatures just haven’t caught up with this type of policing yet,” Kreag told ProPublica.

Worse, guidelines for database samples differ widely between those used by the FBI and the private labs currently amassing consensually-obtained DNA.

As Kirchner explains, the FBI-run national DNA database known as CODIS — the Combined DNA Index System — maintains exacting standards concerning how and when samples can be submitted and uploaded. But local police departments have begun partnering with “private labs that offer such fast, cheap testing that police can afford to amass DNA even to investigate minor crimes, from burglary to vandalism.”

Michael Garvey, head of the Philadelphia Police Department’s office of forensic science, told ProPublica those lesser standards could ‘lead to meaningless or coincidental matches’ — a rather alarming thought considering how often people consent to hand over DNA.

“No one knows what the rules are about what they’re going to upload into these private DNA databases or not,” Garvey cautioned. “Mixtures, partials — what’s their criteria? It varies.”

And despite these local departments regularly partnering with private labs, as FBI agent Ann Todd told Kirchner, DNA profiles stored there would never be eligible for inclusion in CODIS as “those profiles do not meet the strict eligibility, quality, and privacy standards set forth in the federal law.”

Most of the local police departments requesting samples of DNA require officers to get consent in writing — but even that isn’t necessarily standard procedure.

When West Melbourne, Florida, police can’t obtain a sample from someone voluntarily, they’ve collected “abandoned DNA” from discarded cigarette butts and chewing gum, and Fairfax County, Virginia, police admit they don’t always have consent forms on hand.

That could present serious issues when the subject is a minor.

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In an anecdotal example, Kirchner spoke with a father who was shocked to learn his 15-year-old son, Adam, had voluntarily given DNA to police in Melbourne, Florida, despite not having committed any crime.

Officer Justin Valutsky approached Adam and his friends in an SUV parked outside a home in a gated community in March 2015. Advising the teens there had been a string of burglaries in the area, he asked which of them was going to give a DNA sample.

Adam, believing the request indicated Valutsky wouldn’t allow them to leave unless someone agreed, volunteered.

“I thought it meant we had to,” he said afterward.

As soon as he discovered what had taken place, Adam’s father, a physician whose name Kirchner withheld to protect privacy, hired attorney Jason Hicks in hopes of having the sample destroyed. As a physician, he understood the potential ramifications of Adam’s DNA being stored in a database for no reason. Hicks had never encountered consensual DNA collection by police before — and because legislation has yet to catch up, the battle to destroy the sample took a full year and a half.

“If this is okay,” Hicks told ProPublica, “what’s to stop police from walking up to children on a playground or a basketball court and sticking Q-tips in their mouths? As a parent, I get concerned about the erosion of the Fourth Amendment over time.”

Indeed, while minors need parental consent for nearly everything, Big Government doesn’t (yet?) require a parent agree to allow the police state to collect and store their DNA for an untold period of time.

“For me, the crux of it is, can they ask for an underage kid to consent to something like that without a parent?” Adam’s father asked. “According to the police department, that seems to be their policy. But to the general public, I think that would be news to them.”

As invasive and Orwellian as voluntary DNA databases might seem, the FBI already catalogs millions of innocent people using facial recognition and other biometrics technology. Artificial intelligence already assists police departments across the country in predicting when a crime will be committed — and by whom. At least $1 trillion has been spent bolstering the U.S. police state — just since the attacks of 9/11.

Considering the inability of police and FBI to prevent such mass shootings as occurred in Orlando, much less foil any legitimate terrorist plot, perhaps we should be asking who, exactly, does the government consider its enemy?

Claire Bernish writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.


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23 Comments on "Forget “Stop and Frisk” — Cops Across US Collecting DNA of Innocent People in “Stop and Swabs”"

  1. And the next step will be Gimme a DNA swab and I won’t have to cite you for jaywalking, loitering, failure to use turn signal, etc, etc, etc

  2. Go to any public restroom, collect hair samples from around the stool and wahlah you have instant criminals if these hairs are placed at a crime scene.

    • The problem with that is, you would not have a name attached to that sample.

      • CorruptionInColumbia | September 15, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Reply

        Aye, but should the DNA so collected later be identified because its collection is required for job application, gun permit, or upon arrest for another crime later on, the hapless soul whose DNA was thusly collected will be in a heap of trouble. Perhaps this is another good argument for statutes of limitations in our criminal justice system.

      • Not true. If they collect your DNA and someone collects your hair and it’s all hair – head, arm, leg, pubic, then that someone commits a crime and plants your hair all over the place. You are nicked and in the USA you’ll get 30 to life or execution. Also, the politicians and police must understand they are public servants and not public masters. They, none of them, can be trusted. Pigs, but I trust pigs more than these human filth.

  3. Just the latest example of Law Enforcement that has spun completely out of control.

  4. Why is it that ignorant teens will comply with a unlawful requests from a policeman yet not a lawful one their own parents? SMH

    Dishes aren’t that hard to do, we have dishwashers now.

  5. The potential for being falsely accused of a crime simply because your DNA was found at the scene of a crime will be something that’s going to be looked back upon in the future with a how could they not have seen the potential for abuse by law enforcement desperately needing a perp? There could be legitimate reasons why ones DNA could be at the scene such as simply knowing the person and having visited them, we shed hair and skin cells for instance, even finger prints are now known to be more similar among people than once thought. In the rush to judgement with the pressure on to find out who did it or even wanting revenge, think of all the people who’re rotting in jail some on death row, and even with facts/proof coming out that could clear them, law enforcement refuses to admit they’ve got the wrong person and if one doesn’t have the money needed to afford an attorney, you’re screwed, all because they refuse to admit/believe/accept the facts that they got it wrong.

  6. violation of the law illegal search and seizure, AND NO PROBABLE CAUSE

  7. I would refuse; not that I have anything to hide; but merely on principle. Just because there is no law on the books stipulating whether you must comply or not, means absolutely nothing. And, that is the crux of the matter; no one is forced to comply. The Fourth Amendment would apply here.

  8. What kind of dipshit moron would voluntarily give a terrorist pig a DNA sample? Oh, my bad. Most ‘Mericans. I live in a world of dipshit moron sheeple people. Of course the pigs will NEVER use someone’s DNA to implicate them in a crime! How dare you even suggest that! (sarcasm mode)

  9. would the deputiz’m plan stop this? yep.

  10. But but Facebook, and Twitter and snapchat!! I can’t possibly keep up with all the posts AND learn my own role in this universe. So I just look for someone to provide me answers, and follow the trends.

    And for the boomers… But but money, drugs, power. These things I need to feel complete in myself. If I can’t keep the lie going, then what’s the point? I’ll just take on psychotic traits and call it love.

    Pathetic.

  11. What happens when YOUR DNA sample ends up a Crime Scene when the cop’s can’t or won’t spend the time to investigate a Crime Scene.They are lazy and corrupt….

  12. Irony!!

  13. Once again educate your children. The SCOTUS ruled that the police could take DNA ONLY if you were ARRESTED for a “serious” crime. [They did not define serious though one would assume felony]. Not only is this a risk for them finding your innocent DNA at a crime scene from another time, but they use it to profile the whole family. Also with no rules they can sell your info for profit to research labs. Insurance companies can get hold of it and from TV we now know that genetically modified pathogens can be used to target individual people or haplo types.

  14. Hmmm

    “While Fourth Amendment precedents mandate reasonable suspicion of an actual crime be present before requiring a search and seizure” At best this statement is a deliberate deception. Because if you arrested police the courts have in many jurisdictions have granted themselves the right to take blood and DNA samples without a warrant or consent of the individual. In other words the government is pissing all over the Bill of Rights.

    The fourth amendment in it’s entirety. Pay particular attention to what is NOT in the amendment: no exceptions, exemptions or special circumstances that ever grant the government the right to conduct a search or seizure without a warrant. None, nada, zero.

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    The fourth amendment categorically states that without a warrant there can be NO search or seizure period. The notion that an unconstitutional “precedent” somehow is all it takes to override the Constitution is pure and utter BS.

    Notice that once again were are being told about the Bill of Rights without the author ever actually providing the reader with the actual applicable amendment. Now why do you think that is…….?

  15. michael lawless | September 16, 2016 at 6:41 am | Reply

    if they ask me maybe ill just spit in their face

  16. “But because no legislation or legal precedent protects people from this frighteningly invasive practice, nothing would stop police departments in other cities and states from collecting genetic evidence without just cause.”

    Hey, this is the USA, and we are a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC. The US Constitution defines our governments – state and general (federal), assigns the DELEGATED authorities to the different branches and to named-in-writing offices within the branches, lists in writing the duties to be done by those that serve within those different branches and offices – and by that listing all no on that list is forbidden to them, lists some of our PROTECTED from those that serve within our government (retained by the people) natural rights, and is the SUPREME LAW of this nation that all other laws/treaties/regulations/codes/etc MUST be in Pursuance thereof the US Constitution(follow it) in order to be lawful and binding on the American people. Both the US Constitution (supreme law) and each state’s Constitution (highest LAW of the state) are LAWS in writing.

    When one goes to the SUPREME LAW of our nation that all laws/treaties/regulations/codes/etc must follow one can go to the US Constitution, Preamble to the Bill of Rights and see that it is those who serve within our governments that are FORBIDDEN to do those things listed, and others not listed but retained by the people. Then there is the VERY few areas where those that serve within our governments are allowed to act ONLY when certain things have happened, and then ONLY in the manner put into writing within the supreme law that they are Oath bound to support and defend.

    So lets look at the Fourth Amendment to which ALL who serve within our governments – state and federal – are bound by an Oath to follow: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    It is very clear when it says that ” right of the people to be secure in their persons… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” is a LAW, the highest LAW that all laws/treaties/regulations/codes/etc MUST follow says that that is a crime against all Americans.

    But how many knew that? How many know that anyone who breaks the oath, no matter how high or low their position no longer meets the requirements of the position being occupied? That it is at least one felony and the crime of Perjury to break the Oath?

    Brookfield Construction Company V. Stewart 284 F Sup. 94: “An officer who acts in violation of the constitution ceases to represent the government.”

    “The constitution of a state is the fundamental law of the State.” Ware v. Hylton, 3 Dall. 199.

    “What is a constitution? It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty hand of the people, in which certain first principles of fundamental laws are established.” Van Horne v. Dorrance, 2 Dall. 304.

    “A constitution is designated as a supreme enactment, a fundamental act of legislation by the people of the state. A constitution is legislation direct from the people acting in their sovereign capacity, while a statute is legislation from their representatives, subject to limitations prescribed by the superior authority.” Ellingham v. Dye, 231 U. S. 250.

    “The basic purpose of a written constitution has a two-fold aspect, first securing [not granting] to the people of certain unchangeable rights and remedies, and second, the curtailment of unrestricted governmental activity within certain defined spheres.” Du Pont v. Du Pont, 85 A 724.

    “The constitution of a state is stable and permanent, not to be worked upon the temper of the times, not to rise and fall with the tide of events. Notwithstanding the competition of opposing interests, and the violence of contending parties, it remains firm and immoveable, as a mountain amidst the strife and storms, or a rock in the ocean amidst the raging of the waves.” Vanhorne v. Dorrance, supra.

    “Known generally as “stop and spit,” the practice of requesting the DNA of adults and juveniles during routine traffic stops and even basic interactions with police, ProPublica reports, is not only wholly unregulated and unlegislated, it is alarmingly common.”

    It IS regulated. What it really besides a crime committed against the people by an officer is will surprise many of you, it is a *terrorist activity against the American people – though it may have been committed by that officer in ignorance, that ignorance is not allowed by the Oath – one who is sworn to something is required to understand exactly what they are binding themselves to lawfully. The Nuremberg Trials held that those that “just follow orders” and “just do their jobs” are still held accountable for their actions as if they had NOT “just followed orders” and “just done their jobs” those “bad” things would NOT have happened, they always require those that will “just follow orders” and “just do their jobs” to implement them. Here in the USA everyone is responsible for their own actions – be it following an unlawful order or doing a “job” that is unlawful in its actions or being.

    *28 C.F.R. Section 0.85 Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

  17. Hitler would have been proud!!

  18. Why don’t they swab all of the criminals already in jail? Or swab all of the disgusting ILLEGAL ALIENS who are invading the country? I bet many hundreds of rape cases would be solved just in muslim enclaves around the country. And maybe some enforcement too, unlike Idaho, where that poor 5 year old was raped by a muslim ‘refugee’ and the media is whitewashing the story, and local authorities are terrorizing the family.

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