Utah Lawmakers Give Early Approval To Arestee DNA Sampling Proposal

Feb 13, 2014

A House committee unanimously approved a measure this week which would allow police to take DNA samples from people they arrest on suspicion of felony.  Rep. Steve Eliason (R-Sandy), the major proponent of the bill, said genetic evidence is the modern form of police fingerprinting.

The Utah legislature is considering a bill which would expand DNA testing for individuals arrested on suspicion of felony.
Credit National Institute of Justice

H.B. 212 changes the protocol of DNA information to be available at the time of arrest instead of after conviction.

"Currently, it has been the testing’s done, but it’s not submitted until the person is convicted, and then at that point the buccal swabs or whatever the testing medium is, is then sent off to the crime lab for analysis and cataloging," said Chief Deputy Brad Slater of the Cache County Sheriff's Office.

Media reports that advocates of the measure include police, forensic experts and the father of Elizabeth Smart. Others include daughters of a woman who was raped and killed in 1999. In that case, DNA led to a conviction and helped bring the family closure.

If approved, the law could go into effect as early as May, or as late as January 2015. 23 states passed arrestee DNA collection legislation between 2006 and 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.