Tour of St. Paul Forensic Lab Showcases Improvements
St. Paul police gave us a look inside their forensic lab Thursday. About a year ago, an investigation revealed the possibility of contaminated drug tests that may have affected criminal convictions.
After shutting down the crime lab last summer due to reports of shoddy procedures it's back open under a new name, Forensics Services Unit.
St. Paul hired a majority of new staff including forensic scientists, upgraded its equipment, and is looking to become accredited.
Police Chief Tom Smith says the accreditation process takes 15 months to two years, but they are in the process of getting that status.
In February the St. Paul city council gave $700,000 to improve the crime lab's infrastructure and hire new staff to run the lab. Two independent reviews found the lab housed dirty equipment, poor documentation and destroyed fingerprints that were wrongly classified.
Today we got our first look inside the new and improved Forensic Services Unit. The tour offered an up-close view of some of the techniques the lab uses to dust for prints, using superglue, heat, and infrared lights. And how accidents and crime scenes are documented using 3D imaging and turned into animations that are used in jury trials.
The chief says the improvements are helping to earn back the public's trust.
"I believe we're already establishing that trust back, in fact I know that for a fact. I'm not going to speak for our partners that aren't here, but yes I believe that trust has come back. And here right now. And that's because of a quality product," said Chief Tom Smith, St. Paul Police Department.
The upgraded forensics unit will analyze fingerprints and crime scenes, but all blood, DNA and drug testing will be done by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Chief Smith suspended drug testing more than a year ago.