Fighting Crime In A Lab
A state-of-the-art DNA database, called NDDB and housed at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, Canada, collected more than 64,000 DNA criminal profiles and more than 16,000 profiles of unknown DNA since its creation in June 2000. The database is credited with solving more than 2,000 crimes.
However, Toronto Police Department Supt. Gary Ellis is recommending expansion of NDDB to include more offenders, since offenders who committed crimes prior to June 2000 are not required to submit DNA unless they killed more than once at different times. The proposal would allow law enforcement officers to take DNA samples upon arrest of suspects for inclusion in the database and is likely to significantly expand the number of criminals matched with unsolved crimes.
Civil libertarians are against the expansion proposal due to privacy concerns and fear that insurance companies would use DNA profiles to predict the future health of policyholders.
DNA expert and NDDB head Ron Fourney explains that DNA samples do not contain personal characteristics about suspects but rather 13 areas that vary from person to person for matching purposes.
The samples are not stored with suspects’ names but rather a more secure bar code system for identification. The NDDB database will undergo a five-year review by Parliamentary in 2005 where civil libertarians will have a chance to debate privacy issues.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Winnipeg Sun (09/25/04) P. 12; Mandel, Michele .