“I’m proud that the lab accreditation has been renewed,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. “This accreditation ensures the department’s seven laboratories are capable of continuing to provide accurate and reliable scientific results.”
Ralph Keaton, executive director of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) International Accreditation Program, presented accreditation certificates to the department during a ceremony today at the Harrisburg Regional Laboratory.
As part of the accreditation process, assessors review every aspect of a laboratory’s operations, including training programs, case files, operating procedures, safety standards, equipment, document control, evidence storage and security, as well as the qualifications, training and experience of the department’s laboratory personnel.
The State Police Bureau of Forensic Services operates regional crime labs in Bethlehem, Northampton County; Erie, Erie County; Greensburg, Westmoreland County; Harrisburg, Dauphin County; Lima, Delaware County; and Wyoming, Luzerne County. It also operates a separate DNA lab in Greensburg.
“State police generate about 27 percent of the work handled by our labs,” Noonan said. “The remaining 73 percent comes from municipal police departments and other law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania.”
State police conduct a variety of forensic analyses at their laboratories, including drug and blood alcohol, trace evidence, questioned documents, firearm and toolmark, automated fingerprint identification, serological and DNA.
Since the last accreditation in 2007, more than 235,593 cases were processed and completed. The most significant change in day-to-day lab operations since then has been the increased demand for DNA analysis.
In 2005, Pennsylvania law mandated that all convicted felons in Pennsylvania submit blood samples for DNA profiling and inclusion in the state’s database. Previously, only those felons convicted of sexual offenses and murder were required to submit blood samples.
“The database provides us with a tool to match many unsolved crimes to previously convicted criminals and helps us to solve crimes nearly every day,” Noonan added.
“Last year, we had 519 ‘cold hits’ or matches when DNA samples from crime scenes were compared to DNA in the database. This year, we’ve already had more than 220 hits. These hits assist in the investigations which can lead to arrests and convictions, making Pennsylvania a safer place for everyone.
“The department could not have earned another five-year accreditation without the hard work and dedication of the more than 200 men and women who work in the Bureau of Forensic Services,” Noonan said.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania State Police online at www.psp.state.pa.us.