Feb 22, 2020 - Technology

NYPD aims to ease process of removing DNA from city's database

In this illustration, a plastic baggie is labeled with the word "evidence" as a police badge rests inside.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The New York Police Department plans to limit DNA collection from juveniles and ease restrictions on removing samples from the city's digital database, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told the Wall Street Journal this week.

The big picture: U.S. law enforcement has access to DNA in databases outside of the criminal justice system. Through genealogy websites with millions of users like FamilyTreeDNA and GEDmatch — the latter of which automatically opts users out of law enforcement collection — police can use DNA to identify suspects, the New York Times reports.

Details: The NYPD plans to audit more than 80,000 samples managed by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner's Local DNA Index System by removing samples that are over two years old and those not "linked to a continuing case of conviction," the WSJ reports.

  • With the changes, a court order will no longer be required for people acquitted in criminal cases to remove their DNA samples from the database, after they give documentation of a court's final decision in their case.
  • NYPD investigators would only be able to collect DNA from juveniles when they are being investigated for sex crimes, felonies, hate crimes or firearm crimes under the new plan.

Go deeper: Ancestry.com refused court request to give police DNA database access

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