St. Louis Police Object to Collecting Their Own DNA


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that local police officers, who "routinely swab the mouths of suspects for DNA samples," vehemently object "when the swab stick is turned on them." The St. Louis Police Department is asking officers for samples to guard against crime scene contamination, but the cops worry that their DNA could be used for other purposes as well. "It's an attack on officers' constitutional rights," says Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association. Under a 2009 law, Missouri police collect DNA samples from people suspected of various felonies, including burglary, assault, and sex crimes. Previously samples were collected only after conviction.   

[Thanks to Mark Sletten for the tip.]

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  1. The St. Louis Police Department is asking officers for samples to guard against crime scene contamination

    Wouldn’t it be infinitely less complicated all around for them to simply stop licking all the evidence during the bagging and tagging process in the first place…?

  2. I’ve got your DNA sample right here.

    1. That’s exactly what it said underneath my high school yearbook photo!

  3. Hey LEOS, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about!

  4. “It’s an attack on officers’ constitutional rights,”

    Yet requiring students to piss in a jar is not.

    1. imo, and the opinion of many LEO’s, so is that.

      however, iirc in my jurisdiction, this is only required of students IF they want to participate in sports/certain extracurriculars, and even then only in certain cases

      granted, my state constitution recognizes a right to privacy

      1. Hey Dunphy, I called the cops this weekend. It was to break up an assault in Harvard Square. The assaulter was 1) crazy and 2) claimed to have a knife. The other guy may have gotten arrested for flashing (not sure, I left shortly after the cops arrived).

        Thought this might help put a rest to your “anti-cop bigotry” complex.

        1. it’s not a “complex”. just review the posts here. i post on other blogs. volokh.com for instance (a lot of attorneys, to include defense attorneys). this is the only site where i see such a blatant bias.

          1. The very fact that you call it bigotry shows it is a complex.

            1. the very fact that i call it bigotry is because… it is bigotry


  5. I wonder how many cold cases could be solved…

    1. Why do you think they object?

      1. Where’s dunphy to apologist-ize this one away?

        1. Probably out explaining to people how his is helping them and has their best interest at heart as he whacks them upside the head with a well worn baton.

          1. yawn. it’s a labor rights issue.

            there is nothing to “explain away”

            the average person cannot be FORCED to give their DNA *unless* either by court order *or* (in many jurisdictions) when arrested (usually for a felony, but iirc some jurisdictions do it for misdemeanors)

            labor rights matter, and i am sure cops will say this is a bargaining issue, and a privacy issue – which it is.

            however, cops *are* required to give fingerprints AS A CONDITION of employment, and i would imagine that requiring new recruits to give DNA AS A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT will be perfectly acceptable.

            the problem is, when it’s ex-post facto, as it is here. it was never a condition of employment, but NOW after employment it is being added

            thus, it becomes…a labor issue

            i would argue that it should be made a condition of employment, and that APPLICANTS’ dna should be checked , just like applicants FINGERPRINTS are checked.

            however, again… if you are adding this as a condition of employment, then it is of course correct for the cops to protest and the union to argue the privacy angle

            1. if you are adding this as a condition of employment, then it is of course correct for the cops to protest and the union to argue the privacy angle

              Predictable? Absolutely.
              Understandable? Sure.

              1. yup.

                contracts? how do those work?

                1. contracts? how do those work?

                  I’m guessing that this is an honest question, considering how often you confuse union contracts with the bill of rights.

                  Every cop ever: “It says I get a paid suspension whenever I fuck up, right there in the 5th amendment.”

  6. hmmm, that’s exactly what someone with something to hide would say.

  7. They should really stop resisting.

    1. Exactly, then nothing else would happen.

  8. “It’s an attack on officers’ constitutional rights,” says Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association.

    Wait a minute. Aren’t libertarians on record as being opposed to involuntary swabbings? If so, isn’t Roorda making a valid point? Or is it the “libertarian” argument that two wrongs make a right?

    1. I think it’s simply pointing out the idiocy of thinking something is good for the goose, but not the gander. The answer isn’t always that what’s good for one is good for the other.

      Sometimes the answer is it isn’t good for either. Look, the gander doesn’t even want to do it.

      1. it’s also disanalogous

        the “gander” (cops) aren’t advocating the people in other professions be forced to turn over DNA to the govt/the employer

        if you are aware otherwise, please provide examples

    2. The obvious point is that the cops are hypocrites.

      1. no, they aren’t

        show me where the cops are saying DNA should be taken pursuant to employment

        that’s the case here

        1. The union rep didn’t say that, he said it’s an attack on their constitutional rights.

          1. which i agree with. but it’s ALSO a labor/contractual issue. the latter is easier to argue and can be addressed vis a vis the constitutional issues.

            but sure the “it’s a constitutional issue” (which it ALSO is) will get more traction, public support

            note that other professions (generally speaking) aren’t required to give their DNA (with a few exceptions).

            it clearly IS a privacy issue.

    3. Accepting a job where you can potentially contaminate a crime scene with your DNA constitutes volunteering that DNA.

      1. Sure, and Roorda is taking the wrong tack by making this a Constitutional issue. Taking cops’ DNA as a precuation against crime-scene contamination makes good sense and good investigative procedure. It isn’t about presumption of guilt or right to privacy, as Roorda would make it.

        Of course, proponents of mandatory swabbing for “civilians” will counter will the argument that, if you want to go to this school or work for that company or get this loan, you’ll have to “voluntarily” surrender your DNA. Then you do get into the ethics of “presumption of guilt.”

        My broader objection is the mindless tit-for-tat revenge fantasies that too many “libertarians” engage in when it comes to what is one of the few legitimate functions of government: law enforcement.

        1. yup. and again, this is an ex-post facto requirment and thus becomes a labor issue for negotiation

          as for requiring NEW recruits as a condition of employment, as long as its outlined before employment as a requirement – not a problem

  9. OK,


  10. “Patrolman, I’m going to need a sample of your DNA.”

    “Okay by me, Sarge. Just tell your wife I said it was okay.”


  11. It’s not a violation of their constitutional rights. It’s a condition of employment. They are free to choose a different job. If they’re concerned about how the DNA may be used, then their union should negotiate for strict rules that it may only be used to check against DNA collected from samples which they may have contacted.

    The DOD has keep DNA samples for servicemembers for years, but it can only be used for identifying remains. I’ve heard a CID warrant officer complaining about that fact since they had a DNA sample from a rape case that he was working on, but they couldn’t run it through the database like they could if they had a finger print.

    1. yes, but when a condition of employment is CHANGED or ADDED after hiring, then it becomes a privacy/labor issue.

      cops don’t protest about having to give fingerprints as a condition of employment (or even as an applicant) because it’s outlined BEFOREHAND.

      furthermore, as a condition of employment, they have to sign waivers to allow background investigators to get full access to credit reports and lots of private info.

      many police agencies require officer APPLICANTS to give them access to facebook pages, etc. and this is all kosher

      what is different here is that this requirement is being saddled on officers, NOT as a initial condition of employment or application but AFTER hiring.

      in cases like that, it becomes a labor/negotiation/privacy issue

      1. I agree. It’s a labor dispute. It’s the union guy who’s trying to make the claim that it violates the officers’ rights. I don’t know the terms of their contract, so I have know way of knowing if this is something that it would allow. If the contract does allow the department to implement new conditions after employment, then the officers are free to find other employment. If the contract doesn’t allow it, then the union will have a pretty easy time stopping it from happening.

        1. In general though, I think it’s just good investigative work to try to identify possible sources of contamination. It’s no different than when I was a victim of burglary, and the forensic investigators took my finger prints.

          I do wonder how this would affect a case where a criminal investigates his own crime scene. I know that’s unlikely, but it has happened.

          1. i agree. i am just saying that it’s not going to be something that cops agree to without bargaining, among other things, they can get express written policies about how the dna can AND CAN’T be used (health screening, etc. are all possible, at least with future technology)

            the point is the cops are absolutely correct in not just saying “ok. take our DNA”

            i realize the reasonoid meme is that “cops violate everybody else’s privacy so why should we care about theirs” or some such hogwash

      2. dunphy is right that this is entirely a creation of the unions.

        Around here, we add conditions of employment on a pretty regular basis, most recently, involving vaccinations.

        Nobody was crying and whining about it being “ex post facto”. Because we don’t have any unions.

        We don’t owe you any job, at all, and so we are 100% entitled to add (or subtract) conditions to your employment, at any time. Period. Full stop.

        Don’t want the jab? Get another job.

        1. except since we DO have a collective bargaining agreement, you CAN’T add conditions of employment expost facto without it becoming a bargaining issue

          don’t like it? tough

          libertarians support contracts, and we have a CONTRACT, as i am certain St Louis does

          so, again… if they want to ADD conditions of employment ex-post facto especially when those enter privacy spheres, etc. then it becomes a bargaining issue


        2. If you have an employment contract, then you can only add conditions if the contract allows it. Otherwise you are breaching, and opening yourself up to a lawsuit. Whether the contract is with a union or with an individual is irrelevant.

          1. correct. and we all know that unions are EVIL CORPORASHUNS too! 🙂

            again, the “reason” the reasonoids are wanking about this is the reasonoid meme that ‘cops violate others privacy so it’s only fair that their privacy should be violated’ or some such rubbish

            sure, there is a PRACTICAL reason to get cops’ DNA (the contamination issue)/. that doesn’t vitiate the privacy, contractual etc. issues that are also relevant.

            as we probably agree

  12. Only guilty people object.

    1. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

  13. So terrible that something like this should happen to the fine people trying to protect us.


    More like: what goes around comes around.

    1. cops don’t authorize taking of DNA in *any* case.

      judges do.

      so, if it’s going to “come around” it would come around to judges, not cops

  14. The cops have a good reason to be afraid.
    Many years ago I was required to give a DNA sample for possible future remains identification (I’m in the miulitary). I was assured that this is all the sample would ever be used for, I even signed papers! assuring me of this fact.

    Not two years later the DNA bank was opened up for use in criminal investigations. If the permissable uses can be opened up once they can be opened up for anything else.

    1. yup. i remember this being a big contrversy in the military a few years back, etc.

  15. Regardless of the legal/moral/labor issues, it is only a good thing when cops feel the same heat we “common folk” have to.

    Case in point, a funny exchange I watched here recently at the local jiffylube/vehicle registration point.

    A woman was denied an inspection sticker for her car because of a change in Texas law meant her window tint was too dark. She leaves and her husband, local cop comes in swinging his utility belt and flexing his copitude in an attempt to bully the girl behind the counter.

    “This is arbitrary,” he whined “we bought the car this way and then the law changed” he said without noting the obvious irony. The girl behind the counter directed him to the state help line in reference to the change in the law, I.e. Fuck off. He lost and he has to spend $500 to conform to the new law.

    But would he have enforced said arbitrary law on someone else unable to register his car and had an expired sticker? Oh heck yes. So it is ALWAYS good when cops get a taste of being bent over. They need to realize the pointlessness of the bulk of the bullshit codes and violations they live by.

    So I’m down with cop-swabbing.

    1. riiiight.

      well, fortunately, we have rule of law, due process, and labor contracts because whatever you are “down for”…

      rule of law matters. even for, god forbid, those darn cops

      and fwiw, cops are amongst the harshest critics of bullshit laws like the above.

      we aren’t the ones passing stupid anti-smoking ordinances, dumb statist liquor codes, etc.

  16. I don’t make the law, I only deprive you of your freedom or property or life over them.

    Your record is skipping…

  17. And how often do cops ignore due process, rule of law and so forth? Google and YouTube are our friends.

  18. So where were the cops when DNA was being taken from suspects, you know, the presumed innocent? It must suck when you are doing something that violates a suspect’s due process rights and then have the same thing shoved up your privileged cop ass. They have no defense.

    1. again, false analogy. the courts have upheld the taking of DNA PURSUANT to arrest or warrant

      they have not upheld it as a condition of employment, ex-post facto


  19. And if the courts uphold swabbing cops?

    1. then it would be pursuant to rule of law.

      that’s kind of how “rule of law” works…

  20. Open wide…

  21. Tampering with a crime scene/evidence is against the law in all 50 states.

    Every discovered crime scene has cops on it at some point.

    Since the courts ruled that in an investigation suspects can be required to relinquish DNA ergo, all the cops at the scene are required to relinqish their DNA as they are suspects in attmepted crime scene/evidence tampering.

    Since some people here have held that mens rea is irrelevant then this is an open and shut case. Any cop at a crime scene MUST, BY LAW submit their DNA.

    Pretty simple when you use their own logic.

    1. Pretty simple when you use their own logic.

      Agreed. Though Dunphy apparently thinks it’s “hogwash” and “rubbish” to apply cop logic to cops.

  22. Contracts are renegotiated all of the time. It would not surprise me to see the DNA swab inserted as a condition of continued employment. The enforcers eventually fall prey to the stupid laws or inherent evil of the unjust system. Ask the SA how they felt after the night of the long knives.

    Stupid shit you blindly enforce today is the stupid shit that tags you tomorrow.

  23. Or if Godwinning offends you, the fate of the chief architect of the reign of terror finding his head on the block.

    I just enforce the rules eventually fails to cut it.

  24. Anythime you ask them to act like a normal citizen they cry its violating their rights, they will film you, take your DNA but to take theirs, Oh No!

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