A federal class-action lawsuit filed Monday by the Legal Aid Society calls for the dismantling of a New York City DNA database, the New York Times reports.
Unlike the state database, the city's Local DNA Index System includes about 31,800 DNA profiles, including ones obtained from people who were arrested or questioned but never convicted of a crime, the Times notes. In 2020, the city said it would remove profiles of people who were not convicted, but Politico reported in 2021 that the database had only gotten bigger. The Times notes that about 4,000 profiles have been removed from the system.
The Legal Aid Society adds that many of the DNA profiles were obtained without consent, as NYPD detectives are instructed to offer people being questioned water, food, or a cigarette and to collect the item later for testing, the Times says. It further notes that the database has also been criticized for including profiles from minors. In its lawsuit, the Legal Aid Society argues that the city database is illegal, unconstitutional, and needs to be shut down, according to the Times.
NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Edward Riley tells the Times that officials will review the suit. "The driving motivation for the NYPD to collect DNA is to legally identify the correct perpetrator, build the strongest case possible for investigators and our partners in the various prosecutors' offices and bring closure to victims and their families," he adds there.