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Bill allows DNA collection only from violent crime suspects

Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio

Under a measure that cleared the State Assembly Friday morning, police would be allowed to take DNA samples from people they have just arrested, but only those suspected of violent crimes.

The measure would scale back a new DNA law the Legislature approved just last year as part of the state budget. That law let police collect DNA from anyone arrested for an alleged felony. The bill that cleared the State Assembly at around 3:30 Friday morning would scale that back so that it only covers violent crimes.

Backing the change was Hudson Republican Dean Knudson, who said it struck a balance that would preserve people's civil liberties: “Solving cold cases is a very worthy objective,” he said, “but we must hold even more dear the Fourth Amendment rights of our citizens.”

The proposal passed on a voice vote. It still needs the Senate's OK.

Up until last year's budget, officers had to wait until a person was convicted of a crime to take a DNA sample. Wisconsin, like many other states, moved to take the DNA sample sooner, arguing it would help officers catch criminals and save lives.