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Grand Jury Recommends Change at San Francisco Crime Lab

June 13, 2016

A Civil Grand Jury in San Francisco mandated on June 1, 2016 that the San Francisco Police Department Crime Lab divest itself from the SFPD and become an independent entity.  The Crime Lab has long been plagued by a number of scandalous incidents, including a lab employee stealing and using evidentiary cocaine in 2010 and a DNA analyst failing a proficiency test in 2014.  Problems with case tracking and lab management with little or no scientific background have also surfaced.

Although the Lab was recently accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors (ASCLAD), the Jury found that additional steps, including replacing the current Lab Director with a civilian and removing the Lab from the oversight of the SFPD were necessary in order to increase the credibility of the Lab in court and in the community.

There will, of course, be implications of this change in management and in the findings of the Grand Jury.  Laboratory staff and management will likely need to defend their previous work on past cases and all current cases in the courtroom.  Defense attorneys are sure to use these Jury findings as a way to challenge the witness’ expertise and ability to work in an unbiased fashion.  Maintaining a high level of transparency and accountability will be important if the Lab is to raise its status in the legal community.

Read the full article here:

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