State News

SBI looks to expand public oversight of crime lab

Posted January 13, 2011

— The State Bureau of Investigation is looking to expand public oversight of its crime lab operations, opening its doors to input from the criminal justice community and forensic experts as it tries to repair a tarnished reputation, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Thursday.

“Changes must be deliberate and thorough with a continued focus on quality,” he said. “That can’t happen immediately.”

Cooper said the crime lab is making significant progress in enhancing the way it works, including the appointment of an ombudsman – former District Judge Vinston Rozier of Wake County – to serve as a liaison between the agency and the criminal justice system and the public at large. He is also looking to establish a forensic science advisory board to review lab operations.

"With that expert help, we can ensure that lab analysts are at the cutting edge of technology and meeting the highest quality standards of forensic work," Cooper said.

Other changes include a comprehensive legal review of all lab sections and a plans to undergo a more stringent accreditation process.

The SBI is still looking for a permanent lab director, and agency director Greg McLeod said he hopes to announce a new leader in the coming months.

Officials are closely examining SBI operations in the wake of concerns raised last year about how agents handled blood evidence. An outside review of crime lab operations found some 200 cases that were improperly handled during a 16-year period ending in 2003.

"We've taken measures to strengthen our operations in light of some of the things identified in the independent review," McLeod said. "We're taking appropriate actions."

Thursday’s news conference comes nearly a week after the SBI fired Duane Deaver, a veteran agent connected to many of the cases that were improperly handled.

Deaver plans to appeal the firing. His attorney contends Deaver was fired for three issues that aren't grounds for termination.

McLeod declined to discuss the matter Thursday.

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  • ORMA Jan 14, 2011

    At what cost to the taxpayers? Why are taxpayers constantly having to foot the bill for people not doing their jobs? Where is the work ethic that this country used to be known for? Everywhere we look lazy people keep getting promoted while the hardworking employees continue to get dumped on. No ethics, no morals, no problem. Is that the new motto?

  • sg0544 Jan 14, 2011

    "what was Deavers incentive for swaying the results one way or another? Why would he do this."
    -Curlyq

    How about to further his career. His bosses told him to do it and although it was wrong he went along with it. He could have done the right thing and said no, but he chose not to...sounds like a "stand up guy".

  • Inter Alios Jan 14, 2011

    160lilsis: you been in hibernation for the last several years, or just have a family member who works there?

  • Always160 Jan 14, 2011

    For those who want the lab separate from a state agency you need to do your research. The FEW states who have taken their agency away from the state lack the funding to be able to investigate and analyze these crimes as well as our SBI. The Atty General may be a political figure both those working for DOJ and the SBI are employees that chose to work for justice for the citizens of this state and the majority are not political at all!

  • LL4U Jan 14, 2011

    pbjbeach - you can make your point without "screaming" - please stop typing your posts in all caps - it's overkill.

  • pbjbeach Jan 14, 2011

    Inter Alios:

    I am 100% in agreement with your posting on here an i totaly agree that the crime lab should be totaly removed from the jurdistrication of the STATE RUN AN POLITICIAL MOVATED AN OVERSIGHT OF THE CRIME LAB SHOULD BE MADE 100% INDEPENDENT FROM ANY STATE RUN AGENCY AN LET THIS NEWLY CREATED CRIME LAB BE TOTALY BASE ON REAL EVIDENCE AN REAL SIENCE AN FOR IT NOT TO BE ALLOWED TO HAVE OR TO BE INFLUENCE BY ANY OUTSIDE FORCES BE IT THE AG'S FFCIE OR THE D'A'S OFFICE STRICTLY BASED IN SICENCE TOTALY AN THAT EVEIDENCE BE PROPERLY HANLED AN NOT MISRESPRESENTED WHEN IT COME TO PEOPLE TESTFIYING IN COURT ABOUT THE WAY THAT EVEIDENCE WAS HANDLED AN RESPRESENTED TO THE COURTS SYSTEM AN THE JURYS THAT HEAR THIS EVEIDNCE FROM THE INDEPENDENT CRIME LABS THANK YOU

  • pbjbeach Jan 14, 2011

    In my own personal opinion there is no one within the entire N.C.D.O.J.FROM THE ATTORNEYS GENERALS OFFICE TO THE GOVERNORS OFFFIC OR ANYWHERE IN BETWEEN THEM THAT IS TRUELY INSTRESTED IN ASSURING THE GENERAL PUBLIC PLAINTIFS OR DEFENDENTS THAT THE ADMINSTRATION OF JUSTICE IS BEING HANDLEING FAIRLY OR JUSTLY OR CONSTITUTIONALY OR WITH ETHIC'S OR INTGRITY COMING OUT OF ANY OF THE STATES AGENCY THAT IS SUPPOSLY TO BE IN CHARGE AN TO BE CHARGE WITH THE ADMISTRATION OF JUJSTICE . I HAVE EVEN COME TO BELIEVE THAT THE COPORATE/SPECIAL INSTREST IN THIS STATE HAS TAKEN OVER THE ADMINSTRATION OF THE JUSTICE SYSTEM AN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS BEEN PUSHED SO FAR TO THE ULTRA RIGHT THAT ISN'T ANY CHANCE OF IT BEING ADMINSTRATED IN ANY FORM OF REAL FAIRNESS WITHIN THE STATE AGENCYS OR THE SYSTEM IN GENERAL THANK YOU

  • yellow_hat Jan 13, 2011

    Break the science away from the police, prosecution, or the defense. The science should be neutral and search for facts without bias. The SBI lab should be an independent government funded agency.

  • Inter Alios Jan 13, 2011

    I have not seen any evidence of steps taken to change the convict at all cost culture which exists at the SBI. If Cooper was serious about it he would have fired Deever long ago, along with Pendergraft, Ransome and the guy from Anson County who fabricated the confession from the guy incapable of making such confession. His unyielding loyalty to those folks brings into question the reason for such loyalty. Is he afraid these folks will tell all they really know if fired? Why else would you keep incompetents, liars and cheats in a law enforcement agency? The lab should be removed from the SBI and set up totally independent by qualified scientists unconnected to law enforcement and prosecutors. All efforts so far are smoke and mirrors designed to keep the lab under SBI control.

  • mac5535 Jan 13, 2011

    Just blowing political smoke. Hire a decent supervisor and let him run the Lab. Get someone which is an expert in the field and not someone which knows nothing about how a lab should be run. It is so simple to correct but you are making a political mockery out of the situation. You do it this way with is the right way and if you can't do it the right way hit the road.

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