Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is running for governor of Maryland in 2014. He
was endorsed by Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In a speech
in the city, Justin Fenton for the Baltimore Sun reports that Brown was
asked how as governor he would “stem the recent wave of violence”
Brown said it came down to technologies.
At first he was reluctant to give any specifics (probably because he wasn’t
fully prepared to answer the question). Later his office issued a statement,
from which Fenton quotes:
“Maryland law enforcement is working together at every level to fight
crime by utilizing new technologies and tactics…”
At first, with the words “utilizing” and “tactics,”
the statement reads like a corporate memo. But it does go on to specifically
reference things like the DNA database.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently said that cheek swabs for DNA, and entering
that DNA in a database, is like fingerprinting. In other words, the Court
said it was okay for the police to swab a person’s cheek and check
it against the database after an arrest, just as fingerprinting is done
during the booking process.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “Make no mistake
about it: because of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and
entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or
wrongly, and for whatever reason.”
Maybe that’s why Brown was initially reluctant to give specifics
in his public speech. After all, cheek swabs and the DNA database present
considerable privacy issues. It may be a topic worth avoiding for a person
running for political office.