Numerous problems in San Francisco’s forensic crime lab have resulted in hundreds of drug cases being dismissed and hundreds more are under investigation.The root of the problem are accusations that an employee of the San Francisco Police Department’s crime lab was stealing cocaine.
Lab Tech Deborah Jean Madden is under investigation for theft and possibly evidence tampering.The crime lab was shut down in early March.Over 600 drug cases have been dismissed so far.San Francisco’s crime lab is not independent from the police department.
Police Chief George Gascon ordered an audit of the crime lab which found several problems including problems in the "chain of custody" record keeping for seized drugs. and improperly sealed drug envelopes.The audit found the evidence tampering would have been prevented had good laboratory practices been in place.
It appears the police knew of the problems with Ms.Madden as long ago as 2005 when 4 grams of cocaine handled by Ms. Madden came up missing in a federal racketeering trial Ms.Madden had been repeatedly counseled when she failed to follow laboratory protocol.
Jesse McKinley of The New York Times reported the following
Jeff Adachi, who heads the city’s public defender office and has called for the establishment of a crime laboratory independent of the Police Department, said that thousands of cases, dating back a decade, might have to be re-examined.
“This is a tsunami of incompetence,” Mr. Adachi said on Friday. “There weren’t just red flags, there were burning red flags.”
Metro Nashville police department has obtained funding for it’s own crime lab. The San Francisco case illustrates the need for an independent forensic crime lab.It provides a layer of protection for the citizen accused.Today, most law enforcement agencies in Tennessee use the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab.It is ASCLAD certified and is independent of the police.Why are the taxpayers of Davidson County paying for a new crime lab while one is just down the road. Further ,it maintains it’s Independence from the police department.