Accrediting agency to review city crime laboratory

August 27, 2008|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,

The national accrediting agency for crime laboratories will visit Baltimore in the wake of revelations that city lab employees contaminated evidence with their own DNA.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III asked the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board to review the lab's "procedures and operations," police spokesman Sterling Clifford said yesterday. Ralph Keaton, director of the accreditation board, said the commissioner called him late last week and "requested a full review of the lab."

Keaton said he is mobilizing inspectors to come to Baltimore as soon as possible.

Last week, police said that a recent update to the DNA database showed that in 12 instances out of 2,500, "unknown" DNA samples in evidence actually turned out to be the DNA of lab employees. Edgar Koch, the crime lab director, was fired.

Bealefeld contacted the accreditation board because he wanted to be sure that candidates for the crime lab director position are "in a good position" when they start, Clifford said.

Keaton's organization accredited the Baltimore Police Department crime laboratory in December 2006. It is a five-year accreditation, but the lab must submit annual self-audits and other paperwork to maintain its status.

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