City police crime lab earns international standing

December 20, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

Technicians, analysts and other staffers from the Baltimore Police Department's crime lab were honored yesterday for their efforts in achieving international accreditation for one of the department's busiest divisions.

Police officials said the honor from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board was a major milestone for a crucial part of the department's crimefighting efforts. More than 350 crime labs across the world have received the accreditation, officials said.

"We gathered here today to confirm and legitimize what I already knew - that we're the finest crime lab in the country," Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm told employees at a ceremony at the department's downtown headquarters.

Baltimore's Police Department is one of four agencies in Maryland whose lab has that distinction, officials said yesterday at a ceremony at police headquarters in downtown Baltimore.

Edgar Koch, the crime lab's director, said in an interview that the lab began seeking to raise its standards more than 10 years ago, and that the process accelerated a few years ago. Since 2000, with the help of federal grants, the lab has been able to increase the number of employees, who have helped cut its backlog of DNA evidence analysis.

In 2001, Koch said, the backlog of cases with evidence awaiting DNA testing stood at 5,100. The backlog now is about 400, he said.

The lab's work ranges from DNA and drug analysis to firearms and latent print examinations. The division also includes the department's mobile crime lab technicians, who collect evidence at crime scenes.

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