Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chief of Police Reacts to Court of Appeals DNA Collection Opinion

     This week the Maryland Court of Appeals issued an opinion in Alonzo Jay King v. State of Maryland finding unconstitutional the portion of the Maryland DNA Collection Act authorizing DNA collection from arrested persons.

     The act permits law enforcement to collect DNA samples from those arrested and charged for crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, and burglary. Collected samples are compared by the FBI's CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) database to unsolved crimes nationwide. In Prince George's County alone, several violent crimes have been solved thanks to this reliable forensic tool. The law has also helped to exonerate those held for crimes they did not commit.

     Most notably, the 2003 double murder of Suitland Florist owner Mary Frances McDonald, 76, and her longtime friend and employee, Madeline "Mattie" Thompson, 73, was closed thanks to this public safety crime fighting legislation. A 1985 Temple Hills rape case closed in 2004 after a DNA sample was obtained during an arrest nearly two decades later.

     "Several violent criminals would otherwise still be on the streets of Prince George's County if not for this critical law enforcement tool," said Chief of Police Mark Magaw. “Our capacity to protect our residents has been enhanced by this legislation.”

     Jurisdictions throughout the State of Maryland are prepared to comply with this Court of Appeals' ruling.

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