In The News


2014-06-26 | Houston Crime Lab Tech Admitted to Bad Lab Procedures
A former Houston crime laboratory technician blamed for leaving behind dozens of questionable test results admitted to colleagues that he knew he wasn't following proper procedures after results from one of his tests were found faulty, according to a Houston Police Department internal investigation report.

2014-06-24 | New Delaware crime lab faces resistance
WILMINGTON – As the Delaware House gets ready for a fast-track vote Tuesday on a bill to abolish the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and create a new crime lab, two national groups are expressing strong reservations about the change. The National Association of Medical Examiners has expressed the strongest objections, sending a five-page letter to legislators and state leaders calling for the measure to be withdrawn and reconsidered. A spokesperson for the Innocence Project, meanwhile, said that the legislation has some serious flaws that need to be addressed, including two sections that could bring constitutional challenges.

2014-06-19 | Cases Affected after Crime Lab Analyst Ousted
Scores of pending criminal cases and past convictions could be in jeopardy in the wake of revelations that a former Houston Police crime lab technician resigned after an internal investigation found evidence of lying, improper procedure and tampering with an official record.

2014-06-16 | Rape kit testing bill facing opposition from law enforcement organization
The California State Sheriff's Association is coming out strongly against the rape kit bill. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson is the group's president, and he says, "The problematic part of this piece of legislation is really the unfunded mandate and the over-burdensome regulation that it brings. Really this is about local control. It's about the sheriffs having the discretion in determining which forensic cases we refer to the Department of Justice."

2014-06-11 | Four Reasons You Should Not Dry Evidence in a Fume Hood
When drying evidence in a fume hood, it is often very difficult to maintain chain of custody, prevent cross contamination, and properly decontaminate the work area of biohazards. If you are currently drying evidence in a fume hood, it might be time to consider obtaining an Evidence Drying Cabinet instead.

2014-05-31 | Backlogs plague Valley police crime labs
Fingerprint identification is only one brick in the wall of evidence that police attempt to build, and it is more contested than forensic evidence such as DNA, Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo said. But often the same person commits multiple low-level burglaries, so getting that fingerprint information into the system can lead to multiple cases being solved, he said.

2014-05-30 | Backlogs plague Valley police crime labs
Then it can take two years to get a new hire up to speed. "You really can't get a degree in latent-print analysis that prepares you to walk into the lab and do work," Figarelli said. "We make them minimally productive, but it does take a full year and a half to two years to turn them loose on their own" at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said about new hires.

2014-05-30 | Jury awards $175,000 to fired St. Louis police chemist in whistleblower case
A jury decided Wednesday to award $175,000 to a former St. Louis police chemist who claimed she was fired from her 25-year job because she blew the whistle on drug testing errors in the crime lab. The verdict was announced after about five hours of deliberations in a trial that ran longer than a week in St. Louis Circuit Court. The plaintiff, Margart Owens, told a reporter she held no animosity toward the department, but felt it was important to clear her name and prevent future errors. “I’m a scientist,” she said. “If the reports are in error, they should be corrected, because people’s lives are affected by it.”

2014-05-28 | "Open to Dispute": CODIS STR Loci as Private Medical Information
Ever since “DNA fingerprinting” burst onto the forensic scene in the mid-1980s, government authorities and scientists have assured us that the DNA variations used to create identifying profiles for offender databases are pure junk—they do not encode proteins, they have no known associations with diseases or behavioral traits, and they contain no information beyond an arbitrary identifier. Not everyone finds these statements reassuring—or even true. For nearly 25 years, advocacy groups and legal scholars have been predicting that the day when the DNA features used in forensic identification will reveal predispositions to diseases or behavioral traits is just around the corner. Indeed, some commentators have claimed that biomedical science turned that corner years ago. Proclamations that the CODIS STR profiles can be used to infer propensities to diseases from asthma to schizophrenia appear in judicial opinions.

2014-05-27 | Methods for Destroying Drug Evidence Vary
Other jurisdictions have more choices: State police in the Detroit area use a metal forging plant's high-temperature furnace, but smaller posts use burn barrels. Indiana State Police have similar options. Pennsylvania State Police handle drug destruction internally, such as with a small incinerator. New York State Police use an outside contractor they won't disclose.

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