Sheriffs stump for DNA collection

Law enforcement speaks in support of Cuomo’s database expansion proposal

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple shares his support for Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to expand the state's DNA database.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple shares his support for Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to expand the state's DNA database. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Apple told of a burglary case several years ago where the suspect was convicted after leaving muddy footprints at the scene. Upon entering jail, he had a DNA sample taken, but when he was released committed another similar crime, this time wearing gloves and removing his shoes. When police arrived, he fled the scene without his shoes and police were able to swab the shoe for a DNA sample, leading to an arrest.

“We just want to keep people safe, that’s what we’re paid to do,” said Apple. “The more tools there are to help us do that, the better, and this is one of those tools.”

When asked if the database expansion is a violation of privacy, Apple said it is not because only those convicted of a crime will have a sample taken.

According to the data provided by Division of Criminal Justice Services, 34 percent of offenders linked to homicides and sexual assault cases in the database were first required to submit a sample for a lesser crime like drug charges or petit larceny.

Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said his department is also in support of the expansion.

“We acknowledge how important it is to utilize the science of DNA to its full potential, which in turn will help all of law enforcement solve more crimes and bring justice to crime victims,” he said.

All samples are taken in a non-invasive process by swabbing the check of a convicted offender.

The samples are then sent to the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center for processing, where up to 10,000 samples can be processed in a month. The profile created using the sample can be used to match convicted offenders with evidence found at the scene of a crime. Also, crime lab personnel don’t have access to the names, photographs, or criminal history records that correspond to the DNA.

Apple said the new law has helped, since in previous years it could be years before police could find a DNA sample to link a suspect to a crime.

“Albany is a relatively small city, can you imagine how helpful this will be in a place with a much larger population like New York City?” he said. “We’re only trying to do what’s best for citizens.”

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Chrisbuczeksmith 3 years, 10 months ago

No. Absolutely not. Felony convictions, ok. Any other convictions or stops no. If you feel you need a DNA sample get a court order and the standard should be probable cause. For me this borders on erosion of constitutional rights and at best the good intent does not outweigh the erosion of privacy.


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