Legal Aid Society


LAS Demands a Halt to Testing of Mixed DNA Samples

The Legal Aid Society questioned the reticence of the NYPD and its officers to provide their DNA to crime lab technicians after recommendations put forward in a new federal report issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology urged the creation of “elimination databases” to ensure that DNA samples collected from crime scenes are uncontaminated by genetic material from crime scene investigators and laboratory staff, as reported by THE CITY.

Despite the advantages of such a database, which would help avoid potential wrongful arrests and convictions, many officers remain reluctant to provide their DNA – even after a top NYPD forensic official said last year that he supports including all officers into the department’s database.

Terri Rosenblatt, Supervising Attorney of The Legal Aid Society’s DNA Unit, blasted the stance. “Despite the fact that you see, over and over, instances where police are handling evidence with their bare hands, and then submitting it for DNA testing, they don’t do the simplest thing, which is give their own DNA samples,” she said.

“It’s shockingly hypocritical,” Rosenblatt continued. “The NYPD believes that it is perfectly acceptable for them to take a sixth- or seventh-grader into custody, give them a Mountain Dew or a piece of chewing gum, in order to surreptitiously collect their DNA without their parents knowing and put that in the DNA database forever.