Cops Forced to Give DNA Samples Have No Case

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Three Phoenix police officers whose DNA was collected without their consent – but through a search warrant – do not have a Fourth Amendment claim, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday.
     The officers, who appeared on the scene of a police sergeant’s fatal gunshot wound to the head, sued detectives Warren Brewer and Heather Polombo for taking swabs of DNA from their cheeks after they repeatedly refused to provide the samples.
     With a search warrant, the detectives collected the samples in order to exclude the officers as DNA contributors at the crime scene, according to the three-judge panel’s opinion.
     But the officers claimed that the DNA collection did not fulfill the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement.
     None of the officers were suspects in the homicide investigation, the opinion said.
     A federal judge dismissed the officers’ suit, and the Ninth Circuit panel upheld the dismissal on Monday.
     In the 14-page opinion, Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote that the DNA search fulfilled the warrant requirement – it was issued by a superior court judge, there was probable cause to believe the evidence would aid in the investigation and the warrant particularly described the things to be seized.
     Since DNA was sought from all public safety personnel who entered the crime scene to exclude them as depositors of unidentified DNA, Hurwitz said, the collection satisfied the Constitution’s probable-cause requirement.
     “That the plaintiffs had themselves already been excluded as suspects does not undermine the nexus between the evidence desired and the crime investigated; excluding public safety personnel as the source of DNA would plainly “aid in” the conviction of an eventual criminal defendant,” he wrote.
     Hurwitz also said that the collection did not constitute an “undue intrusion.”
     “It was hardly unreasonable here to ask sworn officers to provide saliva samples for the sole purpose of demonstrating that DNA left at a crime scene was not the result of inadvertent contamination by on-duty public safety personnel,” he wrote.
     “And, although we share plaintiffs’ concern over potential misuse of DNA samples to reveal private information about contributors, no such danger is realistically posed here.”
     Neither side immediately responded to request for comment on Monday.

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