LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With a new decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court police will now hold a new power. Law enforcement will be allowed to legally take DNA from arrestees without a warrant or conviction.
Officials argue that criminals tend to be repeat offenders, but will taking an arrestee's DNA help reduce crime?
"DNA as we know from a lot of trials has proved a lot of people innocent and so it is a science that is used in a lot of our court decisions," said Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches.
Monday, the Supreme Court ruled officials can now take a DNA swab without needing a warrant.
Right now, if someone is arrested in Angelina County and are suspected of a crime, a search warrant must be approved through the courts before performing a DNA swab.
"With this court ruling you would not have to go through that procedure. The attorney general would have to look at the Supreme Court ruling and determine how we're going to handle that because in that ruling it says serious crimes, so that's going to be the big decision," Sanches said.
Serious crimes include murder, aggravated assault, sexual battery and many other violent offenses.
Sheriff Greg Sanches agrees that DNA swabs are another way to find out if a person has a criminal record or could be linked to previous unsolved crimes.
"According to how the attorney general rules on this, you take serious crimes such as rape, assault, murders that we have evidence and stuff behind, and we arrest somebody and suspect that they are the one involved in that then it's really going to be a good tool for law enforcement," Sanches said.
DNA swabs are a tool being compared to finger prints, photos, and identifiable markings. These are also used to identify suspects.
"They're all very important," Sanches said. "Fingerprints are still a good tool for law enforcement; I think that in conjunction with DNA will still be used," Sanches said.
Angelina County will continue to use search warrants to take DNA swabs.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision won't restrict current procedures locally or statewide.
28 states and the federal government now take DNA swabs after arrests.