Monday, July 11, 2011

Politie DNA Spray

Amsterdam's Polite Police (called "Politie" in Dutch) have implemented an anti-theft program they call "DNA Spray".  Now, since it's Amsterdam, one's mind might think that it is some kind of 'sex related' spray mechanism... but not everything about Amsterdam is sex, pot, and tulips.  I stayed there for 8 days on vacation and didn't pay anyone for sex, smoked no pot, and only saw tulips once, in the tulip market, last Friday evening - so over-generalizations should be avoided.

But the DNA spray is a means of dissuading criminals from "smash and grab" tactics.  Around high-end stores that sell expensive and designer goods, merchants and the Politie have installed DNA sprayers that spray DNA markers onto criminals.  Combined with cameras that record who is doing the burglaries, forensic scientists can test for the invisible markers on the skin, clothing, and hair of the suspects.  JoeMyGod has a link to it here (link) and there's an explanation of it here (link) as well.  Supposedly in Rotterdam, it's reduced theft by 65% since it's been implemented.

I've heard many a civil libertarian rail against such a concept (at JMG) but you know, I think it's a good thing.  I am sick of petty criminals getting away with stuff as they work the system, and claim their civil rights are being violated or other such baloney.  If you're an innocent bystander and you get the spray on you, then the video camera that witnessed the incident, combined with your credit card receipts before and after, and your cell phone record before and after, will exonerate you as the person who is "not the criminal".  I saw many a store window smashed during my week long visit, and it seemed to always happen "in the middle of the might" - the same time of the night when the graffiti was being sprayed across the city - since the evening before, the window was typically still in-tact, and the next morning during the city's Dutch dawn hangover, as I was up and ambulatory, the smashed windows stuck out.

The Dutch appear to be a very un-litigious society.  Marking criminal suspects with DNA spray is fine.  100s of thousands of Amsterdamers ride bikes to work each day with no helmets, and often at night without reflective clothing or head lights or running lights.  Canalbikes (pedal boats) are rented to clueless (and sometimes completely stoned) tourists without having to sign a legal waiver or don life jackets, or any of the legal BS that would be MANDATORY in the overly litigious United States.  There ARE personal injury lawyers in the Netherlands, as we unexpectedly ran into a friend of ours who lives in Phoenix and who grew up in the Netherlands who happened to be staying at our hotel in Leidensplein explained to us over drinks last Wednesday night - they just don't appear to be the dominant force that drives everyone's behaviour as they are in this country. 

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