CALGARY — Calgary's top cop says allowing police to take DNA samples from suspects prior to a conviction is "the right thing to do."
At an event celebrating 100 years of crime scene investigation in Calgary Wednesday, Chief Rick Hanson said while fingerprinting and photographing suspects used to be the cutting-edge identification techniques, times have changed and DNA testing is the new gold standard.
"At some point in time, the Identification of Criminals Act will be modified, we hope in policing, so that we can take DNA samples on arrest," said Hanson during his speech.
Later, the chief told reporters while the move would be new to Canada, there are already places in Europe that allow it.
"It just makes too much sense that the federal legislation be amended to include DNA samples upon arrest so that No. 1, you ensure that you've got the right person, that he is who he says he is, and No. 2, it would clear huge numbers of crimes where we have evidence, but we haven't yet linked that evidence to the perpetrator," said Hanson.
He admitted making the change would probably be much easier said than done.
"There's a thousand reasons that people would say no and there's only one reason to go ahead with it and that's because it's the right thing to do in this day and age," he said.
Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said while the power to change the legislation is in the federal government's hands, he hopes “constitutional rights and privacy concerns” would be taken into account if such an amendment were to be considered.
Denis noted courts can already require DNA samples from convicted criminals.