Calgary’s top cop says allowing police to take DNA samples from suspects prior to a conviction is “the right thing to do.”
At an event celebrating 100 years of crime scene investigation in Calgary Wednesday, Chief Rick Hanson said while fingerprinting and photographing suspects used to be the cutting edge identification techniques, times have changed and DNA testing is the new gold standard.
“At some point in time, the Identification of Criminals Act will be modified, we hope in policing, so that we can take DNA samples on arrest,” said Hanson during his speech.
Later, the chief told reporters while the move would be new to Canada, there are already places in Europe that allow it.
“It just makes too much sense that the federal legislation be amended to include DNA samples upon arrest,” he said, citing two reasons.
“Number 1, you ensure that you’ve got the right person, that he is who he says he is, and Number 2, it would clear huge numbers of crimes where we have evidence, but we haven’t yet linked that evidence to the perpetrator.”
However, he admits making the change would probably be much easier said than done.
“There’s a thousand reasons that people would say no and there’s only one reason to go ahead with it and that’s because it’s the right thing to do in this day and age,” he said.
Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis said while the power to change the legislation is in the federal government’s hands, he hopes a couple of things would be taken into account if such an amendment were to be considered.
“If the federal government would decide to explore this, I think they should look at constitutional rights and privacy concerns,” he said.
Denis noted courts can already require DNA samples from convicted criminals, but the move Hanson is speaking of would allow police to collect DNA from suspects.
Hanson’s suggestion doesn’t sit well with Hal Joffe, president of the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association.
“It should be mandatory that DNA samples be taken, if at all, only after a conviction,” he said. “I appreciate that the police would have an easier job if citizens were required to self-incriminate in the manner Chief Hanson wishes.
Calgary's top cop Rick Hanson wants to obtain DNA records from everyone who gets arrested | Calgary | News | Calgary Sun