Indianapolis, IN - The Indiana State Police Laboratory Division has achieved a historic milestone by completing an internationally renowned accreditation process which assesses the quality of laboratory operations and scientific procedures. The Indiana State Police laboratories have been certified since 1991. The significance of this accomplishment is the certification points expanded from 152 under the previous standard to 452 expanded standards to maintain the classification of being a certified laboratory.
The four state police laboratories, located in Lowell, Fort Wayne, Evansville and Indianapolis have successfully met the rigorous forensic lab standards of International Standardization for Organization (ISO) 17025. This is the standard recognized by the American Society of CrimeLaboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) International Accreditation Program for Forensic Laboratories.
The significance of this coveted certification validates the exceedingly high standards already practiced at each state police laboratory facility. This rating system provides the general public, and professionals with the Indiana criminal justice system, continued assurance that state police forensic laboratory operations and scientific procedures are meeting the highest standards.
The path to accreditation began in March 2012 with a detailed inspection of the four state police laboratories. As part of the accreditation process 20 trained inspectors from across that nation evaluated the policies, procedures, training manuals and work product of each laboratory.
“The inspectors reviewed every aspect of our operations at each of our four labs,” said Eric Lawrence, Director of Forensic Analysis for the State Police, who served as the main contact throughout the inspection process. “At each location inspectors poured through our laboratory reports and viewed on-site documentation and processes. State police laboratory staff and scientists were interviewed to verify existing procedures and to ensure compliance with the 452 different ISO standards reviewed during the week long inspection. The thorough analysis included reviewing laboratory report findings, data documentation, analytical processes, training, education and qualifications of each staff member.” Lawrence concluded.
While not mandatory, the ASCLD/LAB accreditation process allows a laboratory to demonstrate that its management, personnel, operational and technical procedures, equipment and physical facilities meet established, independent, third-party standards. Accreditation is one facet of the ISP Forensic Laboratory System’s quality assurance program, which also includes proficiency testing, continuing education and other programs to help Indiana State Police laboratories provide better overall service to the criminal justice system.
The four laboratories, comprised of 176 employees, provide forensic services at no charge to federal, state, county and local agencies throughout the State of Indiana. Those services include tests for firearm and tool mark comparisons; identification of controlled substances; trace examinations; questioned documents; latent prints; forensic biology/DNA and maintenance of the state DNA database. The Division also provides polygraph examinations and crime scene investigations, upon request. The Laboratory Division received 17,711 new cases for analysis in 2011. Crime Scene Investigators responded and worked 886 investigations involving 1,239 different crime scenes. The polygraph unit conducted 662 polygraph tests in 2011.
“To achieve accreditation under the new ISO standards in an outstanding accomplishment.” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell, Ph.D. “To acquire this accreditation in such an exemplary manner underscores the excellent preparation and comprehension of the stringent requirements of the accreditation process by our laboratory employees. This recognition could not have been accomplished but for the dedication and hard work of all our laboratory employees who participated in the inspection process.”
SOURCE: Indiana State Police