The New York Police Department is accumulating a massive DNA database of thousands of genetic profiles, The New York Times reports. DNA samples were sourced from convicts and even from people who were simply questioned.
The practice raises questions about privacy rights and civil liberties, especially because the cops collected some DNA samples without even telling subjects, gathering the material from objects like coffee cups, cigarettes, and the rims of water bottles.
Particularly egregious is a sample taken from a 12-year-old who had his DNA sample collected from a straw after talking to the police in 2018, according to the Times.
Chief of detectives of the the NYPD Dermot F. Shea told The Times that the police wasn’t just “indiscriminately collecting DNA. If we did, it would be a database of millions and millions.”
Civil liberties lawyers are working on challenging the NYPD’s methods on the basis of the practice violating the Fourth Amendment — and that it erodes trust in the police, especially when those who haven’t committed a crime have their DNA sampled.