EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

August 27, 2013

Editorial: Tarr bill would restore crime lab credibility

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The volume of forensic services at each facility.

The volume of forensic services handled by each employee at such facilities.

The costs and length of time from submission for testing or procedures and the return of results from such facilities

Facility employee records, qualifications, and incident reports.

A minimum of one public oversight hearing per year for the board to receive testimony relative to the operations of state laboratories.

Some of that may frankly sound like overkill — especially when carried out on a quarterly basis. And, over time, that may prove to be the case.

But lawmakers must face the reality that, right now, the state’s handling of drug crime evidence carries a level of credibility and confidence that, if measurable, would likely run into negative numbers. And while that may have drug-case defense lawyers frothing at the mouth, all of this sends a chilling message to law enforcement officials and residents who should be able to expect a must more secure system for preserving public safety.

Tarr noted Wednesday that his January bill “would instill the necessary oversight, accountability, and transparency needed to ensure a system that demands integrity.” And he’s right.

It might not address all of the state’s crime lab ills. But it sure is a good place to start.

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