Hatch tours new crime lab, touts rapid DNA bill

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Senator Orrin Hatch toured a new addition to the Utah Department of Public Safety Crime Lab on Thursday, learning about improvements to forensics and pushing for passage of his Rapid DNA Act.

"Utah is setting a standard that I think a lot of other states would do well to follow," Hatch said.

Rapid DNA is already used in some police departments around the country. It involves inserting a high quality sample into a machine, which then provides a profile in two hours or less.

Hatch's bill would allow the results of such tests to be entered into the national FBI database of DNA.

Civil liberties advocates have expressed concerns that there is no established procedure for when someone's DNA may be taken. For example, can police arrest someone and take a DNA sample at the same time they take fingerprints, or should a DNA swab require a court order?

Victim advocate Elizabeth Smart accompanied Utah's senior Senator, and endorsed the bill, arguing that it would exonerate some people and it would help police catch criminals before they find new victims.

"It makes me think of the would-be victims," Smart said.