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Letter: Don’t wait for suspect’s conviction to take DNA

NYPD officials said Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, that

NYPD officials said Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, that a sketch released last week of a man seen leaving a Howard Beach park about the time that jogger Karina Vetrano was killed there in early August has led to more tips on the case. Credit: NYPD

An article on the slaying of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano reported that DNA evidence from the scene does not match any of the 600,000 samples in the state’s database [“Cops not close to solving killing,” News, Aug. 23].

The database includes samples from individuals with felony or recent misdemeanor records. A law enforcement official was quoted as saying, “It isn’t going to be a question of good detective work; it is going to be a question of luck.” This shouldn’t be the case in the 21st century.

Our public officials have failed to advance legislation to permit expanded use of DNA technology. The state DNA index system should include all individuals arrested for fingerprintable offenses. Taking DNA samples in addition to fingerprints at the time of arrest would allow offender DNA profiles to be compared early on with evidence from unsolved cases, so recidivists can be taken off the streets.

Of equal importance, current DNA technology could also identify the innocent — people accused or suspected of a crime that they didn’t commit.

The U.S. government and 28 states require DNA samples upon arrest. New York is not one of them. A Maryland study revealed that had DNA profiles of just three offenders been entered into the shared database at the time of arrest, 20 violent crimes by these three could have been prevented.

Robert BiancavillaRiverhead

Editor’s note: The writer is deputy chief of the homicide bureau for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.


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