Colorado police agencies and laboratories would be required to preserve DNA evidence collected in the most severe felony crimes if lawmakers agree with a gubernatorial task force, says the Denver Post. Law-enforcement officials would not face criminal sanctions if they improperly dispose of materials. The recommendations mark the first formal agreement among 23 members of Gov. Bill Ritter’s DNA working group and would rewrite the current statute containing no obligation to save biological evidence.
Task force members, including four lawmakers, are close to wrapping up several weeks of debates and research into other DNA-preservation laws across the nation. One meeting, set for next Monday, remains before they send their proposal for a new law to the governor. They are suggesting that evidence be held long-term – the length of a prisoner’s sentence – only in the top two felony categories, covering murder, rape, and kidnapping cases. In lesser cases where plea agreements are the norm, a judge would determine whether evidence is kept for three years. Such exemptions could help prevent evidence rooms from being swamped by burdensome stockpiles, a concern voiced by police officials.