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    Associated Press: Police cite privacy concerns over their own DNA

    The Associated Press reports that police across the country are raising questions about the privacy of their DNA data:

    When police in southern Louisiana were investigating the deaths of eight women in 2009, the sophistication of the crimes set off rumors that the serial killer was a police officer _ speculation that became so pervasive that officials ordered DNA testing of law enforcement personnel to rule it out. All local officers agreed to the testing and were eliminated as suspects, but the killer remains at large, said Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards.

    Having officers’ DNA samples on file is important for saving time in investigations and fending off doubt about evidence at trials because it allows authorities to identify unknown genetic material found at crime scenes, Edwards and other police and crime lab officials say.

    Police in other parts of the country, however, are not as willing to hand over their DNA. Rank-and-file police from Connecticut to Chicago to Los Angeles have opposed what some experts say is a slowly emerging trend in the U.S. to collect officers’ DNA. […]

    “It’s not that the law enforcement officers are opposed to giving up their DNA,” [said Connecticut Trooper Steven Rief, former president of the state police union.] “You need to have safeguards in place. Something that can tell you … something intimate about someone needs to be treated with the utmost care.”

    Rief and officers in other states say their concerns include management using the DNA information to see if employees are predisposed to diseases and to predict workers’ future health problems. The rank-and-file also don’t want their DNA placed onto a national database that holds criminals’ genetic data. […]

    In a still-unresolved dispute in Los Angeles, the police union and top brass have traded salvos over a requirement that officers give DNA samples in shootings involving police and other use-of-force incidents. Union leaders say management won’t restrict how the DNA information is used and stored, and the union cautioned officers in 2009 about potential privacy and misuse problems. […]

    A small number of police departments across the country have limited policies on collecting officers’ DNA. New York and Las Vegas, for example, require samples from crime scene investigators.

    Louisiana appears to be the only state with a law requiring officers to provide genetic samples. The law was enacted in 2003 and applies only to officers hired on or after Aug. 15 of that year.

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