Renewed push to require DNA samples for felony arrests brings together police, lawmakers

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INDIANAPOLIS – A group of lawmakers, law enforcement and prosecutors unveiled their latest attempt Tuesday to make Indiana the 31st state to require a DNA sample upon a felony arrest.

“I think it’s long overdue,” Boone Count y Prosecutor Todd Meyer said. “And I can speak firsthand to the reason it’s needed.”

The proposal, which will be introduced during the 2017 legislative session, would require individuals arrested for felonies in Indiana to submit a DNA sample. Current law requires a sample upon conviction.

During a news conference at the Statehouse, Meyer pointed to the recent arrest of Damoine Wilcoxson.

A DNA sample collected in Ohio recently led investigators to his arrest in Indianapolis. He's accused in the murder of an 82-year-old Zionsville man and shooting at IMPD district headquarters.

“Let’s put it this way,” Meyer said. “It solved the crime in a day.”

Without Ohio’s law, investigators said Wilcoxson would most likely still be free.

"Now we have a concrete example," State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) said. "We can point to that as a need as to why Indiana needs to follow suit."

Ohio is one of 30 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that requires a DNA sample upon certain arrests. That data is then stored in a national database.

“There was some people saying invasion of privacy and all that,” State Rep. B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) said. “Then they found out hey you’re catching bad people. In this case, you’re catching rapists and murderers.”

Indiana lawmakers have tried this before. Concern still exits about privacy and government overreach.

“I can tell you we’ve heard that with mug shots, with fingerprints,” Mike Nielsen said, Boone County Sheriff.

But advocates say there’s proof in a change in state law will take criminals off the street.

“It’s the 21st century,” Meyer said. “We started with mug shots. We went to fingerprints and now it’s DNA.”