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U.S. Supreme Court makes landmark decision on DNA testing
FLORIDA -- The US Supreme Court made what some are calling a landmark decision today affecting law enforcement.
Justices ruled that police can collect DNA samples from criminal suspects without first getting a warrant.
The court says it's a minor intrusion.
But critics call it a major change in police powers.
If you're arrested for any number of serious crimes here in Florida, you'll likely have to stick one of these in your mouth to swab for DNA.
Angela Ouimette, Admin Clerk, S.R. County Sheriff's Office: "Like a toothbrush, and you're gonna put it in between your teeth and your gums."
Angela Ouimette, a clerk with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office showed me how they take DNA samples.
Both Florida and Alabama require DNA samples to be taken anytime someone is arrested for committing a felony.
At least 26 other states and the federal government have similar policies.
The high court's ruling involved a Maryland case where a man was convicted of rape.
The conviction was based on a DNA sample taken during an arrest on an unrelated assault charge.
The justices concluded DNA swabbing does not violate the 4th Amendment which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
People we spoke with were divided on the issue.
Ryan Brown, Milton: "You should at least have to be found guilty of the crime you were arrested for. You know, I mean, what if you didn't even do what they're trying to say you did. And now they have your DNA for no reason, really."
Jim Young, Milton: "I'm all for it. The more information you've got on those that are arrested for serious crimes, the better off we'll all be."
The Supreme Court was divided as well.
The ruling passed by a very close five to four vote.
Law enforcement authorities point out DNA evidence is not only used for convictions, it's also helped prove many people innocent.