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Whittling Down the Database

The New York City Police Department says it will be removing DNA profiles it collected from people who were questioned or arrested but never convicted of a crime from its database, the New York Times reports.

The NYPD has amassed its own DNA database of about 82,000 DNA profiles — including from minors — separate from that of the state, it notes. In August, the Times reported that a 12-year-old boy who had been questioned had his profile added to the database after police analyzed a straw they'd given him with a soda until his parents petitioned a court to have it removed. 

These local DNA databases are largely unregulated and don't have to follow state or federal guidelines, which the Times notes are usually more stringent.

The NYPD now says it will be combing through the database, the Local DNA Index System, which is maintained by the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, to mark samples that are more than two years old and not linked to a conviction or ongoing case for removal, the Wall Street Journal reports. It adds that the new rules will also make it easier for individuals to ask for their samples to be removed by showing proof of disposition rather than getting a court order and limit the instances in which samples may be taken from minors.

The Journal notes, though, that some critics say the new plan doesn't do enough. "The changes are meaningless," Terri Rosenblatt, supervising attorney of the DNA Unit at the Legal Aid Society, tells it. "The New York City Police Department's plan still violates the law and continues genetic stop-and-frisk."

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