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O'Malley touts progress on arrests from DNA

O'Malley DNA.jpgMaryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced Friday that the state has arrested 267 suspected criminals as the direct result of clearing a backlog of more than 24,000 unanalyzed DNA samples that his administration inherited upon taking office in 2007.

The announcement, made at police headquarters in downtown Baltimore, was the latest by O'Malley designed to demonstrate progress Maryland has made since he succeeded former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who is trying to win back his job this fall.

O'Malley, who built his political career as a crime-fighting mayor of Baltimore, said the statewide arrests aided by the DNA samples included 122 burglary or robbery suspects, 16 homicide suspects and more than 100 individuals wanted for sex offenses.

"These arrests did not happen by accident," O'Malley said, attributing them instead to "the results of what happens when you actually have a government that's working."

A campaign spokesman for Ehrlich shot back that O'Malley's staged event -- held to mark a milestone of 250 arrests as of last month -- was the latest example of the Democratic incumbent "trying to take credit for Ehrlich's accomplishments."

Ehrlich Press Secretary Andy Barth said that Ehrlich deserved credit for funding a $24 million forensics lab, where Maryland State Police analyze samples and put them into a national database to compare against cold cases.

And Barth said that Ehrlich had inherited a "weak to non-existent" system when he took office in 2003, significantly expanding the number of DNA samples taken from convicted criminals during his final years in office.

A backlog of unanalyzed samples had grown to more than 24,000 by the time Ehrlich left office. In 2008, O'Malley announced that his administration had cleared the backlog, after investing in additional equipment and personnel.

O'Malley also pushed a bill through the General Assembly last year that authorized the collection of DNA samples from people charged with certain violent crimes and burglaries. That legislation was initially resisted by a caucus of black lawmakers, who argued that the state was overreaching by taking samples before people are convicted of crimes.

O'Malley's legislation was among several expansions of DNA collections lawmakers had authorized since first requiring all convicted sex offenders to provide samples in 1994. The legislature greatly expanded the number of qualifying crimes in 1999.

In 2005, lawmakers passed a bill proposed by Ehrlich in 2005 that authorized collection of samples from convicted criminals at the courthouse immediately after sentencing, rather than waiting for arrival at a correctional facility.

Earlier this week, O'Malley held an event in Greenbelt, where he pledged to double the state's investment in license-plate recognition technology that has been credited with cracking down on car thefts.

Flanked by law-enforcement officials, O'Malley said the state would spend an additional $2 million in grant funding on the high-tech system in the coming year. Maryland started investing in the technology in 2007.

Left unsaid at the event was that $1.8 million was diverted last fiscal year from a state Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund to help balance the state's operating budget. O'Malley aides said the diversion still left $1.6 million in the fund, which is used for a variety of initiatives to fight auto thefts.

By John Wagner  |  August 6, 2010; 1:59 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner  
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Criminals forfeit all rights...DNA should be collected from anyone arrested regardless of the offense and be done on a national scale.
Then any 3 strike and up offenders should be eliminated. THAT would prevent crime.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | August 6, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations O'Malley. Another job well done.

Posted by: MarilynManson | August 6, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Ehrlich is going to have an uphill battle fighting this election bid!

Posted by: VoiceofReason77 | August 6, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic job Governor O'Malley!

Posted by: bobby20 | August 6, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The choice of a new generation




Posted by: ccshopping203 | August 6, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, O'Malley gives thousands of criminal illegal aliens a free pass.

Posted by: postisarag | August 7, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Great job Govenor! However, DNA should be extracted from all citizens and other persons on U.S. soil - because you never know who's committing crime. It's senseless to collect samples from only arrestees. At some point everyone had a clean record and one day, they broke the law - whether caught or not.

Posted by: CMIX | August 7, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

where is the naacp on dna collections and the arrests of so many blacks...

Posted by: DwightCollins | August 7, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Erlich is trying to take credit for O'Malley's performance and efforts...

Face it Bob, the technology wasn't as mature as it is now... so, don't try to take credit for funding a state police building and supplying them with some needed lab equipment.

It's more about CARING and MAKING AN EFFORT TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF ALL MARYLANDERS, than it is about paying back your campaign donors and political supporters.

Posted by: FranknErnest | August 7, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Thats a ignorant statement.

Why not just require everyone to give DNA samples when they are born, that way, you wont have to wait until the crime is commitment, to try to catch someone.

Criminals do not, give up all their rights, when they are arrested.

Also, what if someone is arrested, and then the charges are found false, or dropped. They still have their fingerprints and DNA in the system, the law will not allow it to be deletedm, even though they are not a criminal.

Posted by: BigDaddy651

""Criminals forfeit all rights...DNA should be collected from anyone arrested regardless of the offense and be done on a national scale.
Then any 3 strike and up offenders should be eliminated. THAT would prevent crime.""

Posted by: remission1 | August 7, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

We should collect DNA samples from every person alive. I'd bet the courts, lawyers, judges, police officers, doctors, nurses, etc, etc would all be losing employees to the criminal justice system.

Posted by: CMIX | August 7, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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