The former chief of the New York Police Department’s forensic unit has been transferred from the department by superiors after results of lab proficiency tests revealed that technicians had reported false test results. Deputy Chief Denis McCarthy, who was recently transferred to a patrol division, is a 27-year veteran of the department and was in charge in 2002 when routine tests caught lab technicians “dry-labbing” – or reporting results when no testing had been performed.
A spokesman for the Police Department, Paul J. Browne, said the falsified test results in 2002 had no bearing on actual court cases, since they were revealed in a routine procedure of “blind proficiency tests” designed as internal checks on the integrity and competence of civilian criminalists, 100 of whom are now employed by the crime laboratory.
But some critics are not convinced that it is an isolated incident. Peter Neufeld, a lawyer and co-founder of the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal group that uses DNA evidence to represent people it believes have been wrongly convicted, said it was unclear how many cases were affected in New York and elsewhere by such falsified lab work.
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. (New York Times, 4/20/07)
Crime lab misconduct and lax standards are a major cause of wrongful convictions.
Read more in our Understand the Causes section