Top Maryland law enforcement officials are pushing back against a Court of Appeals decision that prohibits DNA collection from suspects charged — but not yet convicted — of violent crimes, saying the ruling will allow dangerous criminals to go undetected by authorities, the Washington Post reports. Gov. Martin O’Malley, police chiefs, and prosecutors are urging the state's attorney general to challenge the ruling, which found that swabbing criminal suspects for DNA samples after they are charged is a violation of the suspects' constitutional rights.
Police and prosecutors say the case could jeopardize the convictions of 34 robbers, burglars, and rapists whose genetic samples were taken after they were charged in separate cases. They also said it will hamper detectives' ability to solve cold cases.”It really sets Maryland back in the crime fight,” said Col. Marcus L. Brown, superintendent of the Maryland State Police. The case puts Maryland at the center of a brewing national debate that raises the question of how to balance privacy rights and public safety. Federal and state courts across the country have issued mixed opinions on when DNA collection is legal. The governor's office says 26 states have legislation similar to Maryland's. The issue seems destined to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.