Drooling for a DNA sample

Alf is chuffed – he’s sure he has the answer to an objection raised against extending the DNA sampling regime.

The solution is salival.

The objection was raised on Waatea News today by Maori lawyer Moana Jackson in response to the introduction of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill.

Justice Minister Simon Power says this bill “expands the collection and use of DNA samples to help police solve more crime.”

Great. Alf is all for helping the police solve more crime.

The new bill (Power says) –

“…allows police to collect DNA from people they ‘intend to charge’, and to match it against samples from unsolved crimes. At present, DNA can be collected only with consent, by judicial approval, or by compulsion where people are suspected or convicted of an offence punishable by more than seven years’ imprisonment, or another specified offence.

“The Government regards this legislation as critical in the fight against the escalating rate of crime.

“There are 90,000 DNA profiles in the DNA databank – more than 8,000 of them unidentified profiles from crime scenes – and the Government believes we should be making the best use of this technology to help solve more crime.

“This is the modern-day fingerprint, and the samples will be taken at the same time that police take fingerprints.”

The implementation of DNA sampling will be introduced in two stages:

* The first will allow police to obtain and test the DNA profile of every person charged with serious offences where DNA trace evidence is often involved, crimes that indicate a propensity for more serious offending, and crimes such as aggravated assault, peeping, committing an indecent act in a public place, unlawful possession of a firearm, cruelty to a child, and male assaults female.

* The second stage, to come into effect by 2011, will enable samples to be taken from everyone charged with an imprisonable offence.

Power said –

“We believe this is going to be a critical tool for the police to be able to conduct the work that they need to do to make New Zealand a safer place.”

Way to go.

But Jackson is banging on about cultural considerations, our treaty obligations, and the need to preserve a bloke’s mana after he (or she, presumably) has been hauled off to the nick.

Alf is a new-age Eketahunan, of course, and always willing to try to accommodate this cultural stuff.

His answer: the cops must gather spit, not blood.

Alf acknowledges the part played by Bomber Bradbury in shaping his thinking.

At Tumeke, Bradbury refers to civil liberties lawyers (a namby-pamby bunch in Alf’s view) who fear the system will be open to abuse.

He says –

If you are convicted of a severe crime, I have no issue with the Police taking your DNA, but merely for being arrested and not needing a Judge to sanction the taking of the DNA and seeing how the Police have previously used DNA to stitch innocent people up makes me incandescent with rage that National are simply handing our civil rights over to the cops without one word to the public justifying this gross intrusion of our rights. DO NOT GIVE THE COPS YOUR DNA – refuse to and make the pricks take it by force, resist EVERY attempt.

My personal pledge, I will not voluntarily give you my DNA Mr Officer unless it is spitting directly into your face, you can take my DNA from my cold dead hands (or unless I have been CONVICTED of a severe crime, I have no problems with DNA AFTER you have been convicted of a severe crime).

The bells clanged in Alf’s sharp mind – he recalled how otherwise sensitive Maori love to spit vituperatively at the law and authority.

The lovable Tama Iti, for example.

A profile in the Herald said of Iti

His is the most recognisable face of Maori nationalism. He is the short, stocky warrior with the full moko who turns up at protests and land occupations baring his buttocks or spitting. He is the one who emptied his nostrils at Maori MPs during the hikoi against the foreshore and seabed legislation

Iti’s exploits, if that’s the right word, include spitting toward the governor-general and prime minister at Waitangi, and toward Maori MPs at a Beehive foreshore and seabed protest

But Iti isn’t alone in using dollops of saliva (and snot) for protest purposes.

In 1995, Maori protesters spat at and abused Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard and Prime Minister Jim Bolger, forcing the cancellation of formal ceremonies at Waitangi

So Alf reckons that whenever the cops round up a Maori miscreant (and the stats suggest they do this pretty often ), there can be no cultural impediment to taking a DNA sample if it is spat contemptuously at the law.

No, not at a real cop. That would be apt to discourage recruiting.

But why not have a bloody big cardboard cutout of a cop, with a receptacle beneath to catch the drool when gravity brings it – inevitably – down for DNA collection and storage?

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