DNA sample concerns spur new police system

by jeeg 3. December 2013 21:34

A family’s complaint that San Diego police illegally collected DNA samples from them has prompted the department to create a new system.

Officials have devised a consent form to be signed by any member of the public not under arrest who agrees to let police take a DNA sample.

The idea, said police Lt. Kevin Mayer, is to “ensure the rights of each citizen and to protect the city against liability.”

The city of San Diego agreed to pay the family $35,000 and attorney fees to settle the issue before a lawsuit was filed. The city did not admit any wrongdoing.

The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union represented Delane Beaner and four family members living in southeastern San Diego in 2011. Police went to the house to check on Beaner’s parolee son, who wasn’t home. Officers handcuffed Beaner’s two brothers and two other children, and searched the property for two hours.

They found guns in the garage and demanded DNA samples from each family member, who were never arrested or linked to the firearms, ALCU officials said. Police had no warrant for the DNA collection.

Lawyers for the family approached the City Attorney’s Office, which investigated and began working on a settlement. The ACLU announced the terms of the settlement this week.

Mayer said the Police Department has created the waiver/consent form “in an effort to be proactive and to mitigate future issues surrounding the collection of DNA evidence.”

A person not under arrest has the right to refuse to sign the form and not give a DNA swab sample, but may agree to do so in order to be eliminated as a suspect or assist an investigation, Mayer said.

If the person does agree to give the sample, and signs the form, there is place for a witness to also sign.

The form will be available to all department personnel, Mayer said.

He said he did not know whether officers involved in the DNA collection from the family were subject to an internal affairs investigation or any discipline.

Pauline Repard, UT San Diego


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