Detroit crime lab shut down after audit

Sept. 26, 2008 at 11:35 AM
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DETROIT, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The Detroit Police Department's entire crime lab has been shut down following a state audit of the department's firearms laboratory, officials say.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said the Michigan State Police audit allegedly found a significant systemic problem in the firearms lab that could taint all forensic tests during the last few years, The Detroit News said Friday.

"This opens a huge can of worms," Worthy said. "If the quality system is failing in one forensic discipline, it is highly likely to be an indicator of a severe problem that affects other forensic disciplines as well."

Worthy said the audit, prompted in June by tainted firearms evidence that was discovered, allegedly found that 10 percent of the 200 lab cases reviewed had errors.

That percentage is far too high for a reputable crime lab even when accounting for expected human error, University of Michigan law professor David A. Moran told the News.

"When you're dealing with human beings, you can expect some errors," Moran said. "But a decent lab would have an error rate of under 1 percent. A 10-percent rate is absolutely shocking."

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