In October, the City Council introduced a bill to limit the NYPD’s collection of DNA samples. Co-sponsors Diana Ayala and Donovan Richards seek to prevent gathering samples from minors without their knowledge or parental consent. But if anything, new research suggests we should not only be maintaining these DNA samples, but putting everyone who is in the database on notice.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner houses the local DNA database for the five boroughs. It operates completely independent of police and of prosecutors’ offices. In the database, samples are associated solely with a serial number: There is no information about identity, race, age or health. The information can’t be used in paternity suits or insurance claims. It exists exclusively to establish or disprove guilt.
There is only one downside to being in the DNA database: If you commit a crime, you might get caught. The upsides to our city, however, may be even bigger than previously thought.
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