Police around Maryland said Wednesday that they would continue to collect DNA samples when suspects are arrested for violent crimes and burglaries, despite a ruling by the state’s top court limiting the practice, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that the 2009 law violated a suspect’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The ruling did leave open the possibility that police could take DNA samples for the purpose of identifying a suspect at the time of arrest.
The collection of DNA at arrest has been the subject of national debate, because opponents point out that it takes place before a suspect is tried in court. Twenty-six states have laws similar to Maryland’s, and many have been upheld in state and federal court. Several law enforcement agencies, including the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, were awaiting a decision on whether the state will appeal before they make changes. State and local officials called for an appeal of what they see as a crucial tool that has linked suspects to other, unsolved crimes. Opponents of the practice said the decision to continue taking samples shows disregard for the Court of Appeals and the law.