The Small Town Hunt for DNA

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It is a battle over spit — and it’s spilled into a fight over civil liberties. When police in a small Cape Cod town found themselves with a three year old murder case that had gone stone cold, they decided to try the latest in investigative tools: a DNA sweep.

Now, all men in Truro are being asked to volunteer to have police swab their cheeks for a saliva sample. Authorities are hoping this tactic will help catch a killer — or at least narrow the search for suspects. But many residents are refusing to be tested, saying that it violates their privacy — and stigmatizes anyone who says “no”.

Some say it sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to a national DNA database for all kinds of crimes while some in law enforcement say DNA is destined to become the fingerprint of the 21st century. To swab or not to swab?


Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program

Howard Safir, former Police Commissioner of New York City and current security and investigations consultant

Jan Worthington, cousin of Christa Worthington – murdered Truro resident

Brian Dunn, resident of Truro, MA.