Local News

State crime lab's DNA unit passes two outside audits

Posted March 29, 2011 2:52 p.m. EDT
Updated March 29, 2011 2:54 p.m. EDT

State Bureau of Investigation, SBI

— Two independent audits have found that the state crime laboratory's DNA unit meets high national standards, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.

The lab's blood analysis unit came under fire last year when an independent review found that analysts overstated evidence in more than 200 cases in a 16-year period. Cooper then ordered audits of the rest of the crime lab.

A team from the Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab conducted an FBI Quality Assurance Standards Audit of the DNA unit in October, and auditors from the National Forensic Science Technology Center conducted a separate on-site review in December.

The reviews found that both the casework unit, which examines forensic evidence, and the database unit, which analyzes and uploads DNA profiles, meet FBI standards, Cooper said.

"We asked for these extra reviews to reassure the public and the criminal justice system that our DNA work remains first rate," State Bureau of Investigation Director Greg McLeod said in a statement. "We welcome scrutiny as we work to make sure that the lab meets the highest and best standards."

The Kentucky auditors found an issue in both units regarding dates on chemical reagents and a second, unidentified issue for the casework unit. These issues were later fixed, officials said. The second audit found no issues to correct.

The SBI lab maintains the state's DNA database and provides law enforcement with analysis of evidence that may contain DNA. Evidence recovered from crime scenes can be compared to DNA profiles of suspects developed by local investigators and also used to search for a match to a profile already in the database.

DNA work by the SBI lab resulted in a record 420 matches to the DNA database in 2010 to help law enforcement solve crimes across the state. A hit to the database also can help law enforcement clear wrongly accused suspects.

"This good work by the SBI DNA unit takes criminals off our streets, exonerates the innocent and can bring justice to victims and their families," Cooper said in a statement.