Legislator to push for DNA sampling

Bill would require all arrestees to provide sample for database

The earlier that law enforcement can collect DNA evidence from suspects, the better, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said during a Wednesday stop in Grand Junction.

“If you look at the studies, not only does DNA help us solve cases, but if you use DNA in this manner and take it from arrestees, it helps prevent crime,” Morrissey said.

For that reason, Morrissey, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger and Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said they support the creation of a law to require DNA sampling for anyone arrested in Colorado.

State Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, who gathered with the three elected officials, announced his first bill in 2009 will implement just such a requirement.

“This is a powerful tool for law enforcement … both for convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent,” Hautzinger said.

Buescher said his legislation will include “a clear path” to take DNA out of the statewide database for individuals police arrest but who are later exonerated.

The Grand Junction lawmaker’s push for arrestee DNA collection comes as part of a recent strengthening of Colorado’s DNA laws, according to Colorado Legislative Council records.

Colorado, which for decades has required that sex offenders submit DNA samples upon conviction, expanded its DNA collection in 2002 to include all felons sentenced to prison.

And in 2006, with the support of Buescher and then-Rep. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, the state Legislature expanded the mandate to include anyone sentenced to probation.

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, successfully pushed legislation last year to expand the state’s DNA-collection mandate to include all felons serving time in Colorado prisons, including those who started their sentences before the new recently enacted mandates.


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