Friday, November 22, 2013

Orange County Crime Lab Discovers Errors in Blood-Alcohol Tests- Tip of the Iceberg?

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA – Earlier this month, the Orange County Crime Lab (OCCL) discovered a clerical error in calibrating one of two machines used to analyze blood alcohol concentration.  The error affects cases from the end of May 2013 to the beginning of October 2013. 

According to an Orange County Sheriff Department’s (OCSD) press release, following the discovery, the OCCL conducted a full audit of the last five years of DUI alcohol casework.  In the course of that audit, the OCCL discovered a  calibration error of other blood alcohol instrument between December 2012 and May 2013.  One hundred blood samples processed between these two dates will be corrected.

We should note that we were not only  critical of the integrity of the  OCCL’s American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors ( ASCLD) accreditation, but also questioned the value of the fanfare associated with the accreditation’s announcement.    Subsequently, a  congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council released in early 2009 supported our concerns. 

Now, we assert that calibration errors are as basic as blocking and tackling in football.  Meaning that if ASCL accreditation has any value, calibration errors should never happen.  And we assert that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Dramatically shrinking gnome sequencing costs and mishandling and or abusing DNA processing are much bigger concerns.

According to the same press release, “the OCCL is working with ASCLD to document all corrective actions taken and the procedural changes detecting all calibrator variations. Additionally, the OCCL is cooperating fully with Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to request an audit by the California Department of Health to confirm all procedural and casework standards.”

On a related story, the state of California is responsible for auditing the state’s Sheriffs departments.  Our research indicates that the state has not audited the Los Angeles, San Diego or the Orange County Sheriff departments.

Related Stories

OC-CSI is Official – OCSD ASCLD/LAB Certified
July 15,   2008      
The OC Sheriff Department’s Forensic Science Services Division is now Orange County’s only ASCLD accredited, full service law enforcement crime lab that provides crime scene investigation and laboratory examinations on evidence in all forensic disciplines, including fingerprints, DNA, toxicology and firearms to name a few. Their services are provided free to all law enforcement agencies within the county.

Posted by: CotoBlogzz | 02/19/2009 3:00 PM

The good news is that the OCSD’s Crime Lab reported  a new record for DNA database hits.  The Lab obtained 32 hits in a single day on Feb, 1 2009, beating the last hit record of 22 in one day set in September 2006.

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