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San Francisco Police Department called out for use of DNA samples

SFPD needs to clean up its practices of victim DNA usage.
Flickr / Creative Commons
SFPD is taken to task to clean up its use of DNA samples from sexual assault survivors.

The DNA collected from a woman’s rape kit in 2016 was recently used by the San Francisco Police Department to connect her with an unrelated crime.

San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin dropped all charges in the case saying, “We should encourage survivors to come forward– not collect evidence to use against them in the future…This is legally and ethically wrong.”

Michael Risher, counsel at the ACLU Northern California, says federal law prohibits uploading victim DNA samples into the database police use to solve crimes.

On Friday, San Francisco’s Public Defender Mano Raju joined the DA in the call to end the SFPD’s illegal use of sexual assault survivor DNA. In addition, he acknowledged the need for an investigation of this practice and justice for those who have been wrongly impacted by its use. It is unknown how often victims’ DNA has been accessed by the SFPD to connect them with other crimes.

According to the DA’s press release last week, Black women and members of the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence. Reluctance to report rape and sexual assault is widespread in these communities and is partially due to a long history of not feeling supported by law enforcement.