SFPD DNA lab has nothing to hide, chief says after rebukes

Greg Suhr

In response to media reports detailing criticism of the San Francisco Police Department’s DNA lab, Police Chief Greg Suhr said he has invited the organization that re-accredited the lab in 2010 to again review the operation.

Recently released transcripts of a closed hearing between a San Francisco Superior Court judge and a former consultant to the District Attorney’s Office on DNA issues offered a critique of a lab employee who now supervises the lab. The Police Department also was criticized for failing to forward the consultant’s criticism to the American Society of Crime Lab Directors.

The criticism centered on the lab technician’s alleged failure to report possibly exculpatory DNA evidence in a 2007 double-homicide case. The three suspects in the case were later acquitted.

“That predates my administration,” Suhr said of the allegations at Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting. However, he said he has reached out to the North Carolina-based society, which offers an industry-standard accreditation process for U.S. crime labs.

“We did send a letter to ASCLD, the certification body, inviting them back at the department’s expense to go over what they’ve already certified, just to err on the side of caution that we are exactly where we think we are,” Suhr said.

The society was brought to the San Francisco Police Department in 2010 in the wake of the department’s drug lab scandal. Although the drug lab was closed, the DNA testing lab continued operations and was re-accredited by ASCLD.

Suhr insisted that his lab was “in complete compliance” with industry standards.

“We think we are in good stead, with all the requirements, as far as having our DNA lab be up to snuff,” Suhr said.

Society officials did not immediately return a Thursday afternoon call for comment about Suhr’s letter.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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