Raleigh, N.C. — Gathering DNA samples upon arrest is saving lives, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says.
"DNA from arrestees pinpoints suspects more quickly, gets predators off the streets sooner and clears suspects who have been wrongly accused,” Cooper told lawmakers in Chicago Wednesday at a gathering hosted by the advocacy group DNA Saves.
The nonprofit pushes for states to pass laws like one that went into effect last year in North Carolina that requires people arrested for specific violent felonies and misdemeanors to submit to DNA collection by cheek swab.
Twenty-five other states have now passed such laws.
Under North Carolina's law, which went into effect Feb. 1, 2011, DNA samples from arrestees are analyzed and uploaded to state and national databases to run against DNA collected from unsolved crimes.
If a person isn't convicted or the case is dismissed, the arrestee's sample is removed from the database.
About 43 DNA profiles from arrestees have been used to help solve cases and to also clear suspects.
Cooper, who pushed for the law, told Wednesday's crowd that passing the law isn't enough and that states must also invest in the resources and staff to allow for testing to continue.
"Just passing a law without resources for implementation is only half the job," he said. "Getting those samples into the database quickly and accurately, then tracking the hits and arresting a suspect is what gets results."
North Carolina's DNA database contains nearly 225,000 profiles and has helped solve more than 2,100 cases since it was created in 1994.