State could look again at DNA collection

Staff writerJune 3, 2013 

Don’t expect more DNA collection by police in Washington state anytime soon, despite Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving law enforcement wider latitude in obtaining samples from people when they are arrested.

The state’s constitution, specifically Article 1, Section 7, offers Washingtonians more protections against searches of their persons and personal effects than even the U.S. Constitution.

State lawmakers would need to pass legislation to ease those protections before local law enforcement agencies could begin collecting DNA samples from people arrested as part of a criminal investigation, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said.

State law allows authorities to collect DNA from people once they are convicted of a felony, and law enforcement officers have the option of seeking a search warrant, which a judge must approve, to collect DNA from an individual accused of a crime.

But local police do not have the authority now to collect a DNA sample when a person is arrested.

An attempt to change that was made in January 2012.

Then-Rep. Jeannie Darneille, now a Democratic state senator from Tacoma, introduced legislation that would have allowed Washington law enforcement agencies to collect DNA from people who were arrested for a felony or gross misdemeanor if a judge found probable cause for the case to go forward.

The bill, which failed, would have allowed a person later acquitted or not formally charged to petition to have his or her DNA sample removed from the state database.

Lindquist said he thinks Monday’s Supreme Court action might renew interest in similar legislation in Washington state.

“It does open the door,” said Lindquist, who said he would support such a law.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644


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