PIKESVILLE, Md. (August 17, 2011)—The Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division Laboratory was today awarded the highest level of accreditation given by an international crime laboratory accrediting body and is the first full-service state or local, non-federal crime lab in Maryland to receive this level of certification.
Ralph Keaton, executive director of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) today presented the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division Laboratory with international accreditation, the highest level of accreditation available. Certificates of accreditation were presented to Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus Brown and Director Terry Long, who heads the states largest crime laboratory.
Today we celebrate an accomplishment that will remind our citizens, our police officers, and our courts that the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division meets the highest accreditation standards available, Colonel Brown said. I appreciate the hard work of each person who is a part of this Division and their sincere commitment to maintaining the highest standards of forensic science.
Director Terry Long gave the credit to the men and women in her division. This achievement is indeed a hallmark of the service, dedication and commitment of many highly qualified staff of the Forensic Sciences Division, she said. It provides the citizens of Maryland with confidence and assurance that the forensic services provided meet the international standards of quality.
ASCLD/LAB Executive Director Ralph Keaton emphasized the importance of this achievement for Marylanders. "The citizens of the state of Maryland should be very pleased that the members of the Forensic Sciences Division of the Maryland State Police have sought and attained accreditation under the internationally recognized standards of the oldest and most widely recognized forensic accrediting body in the world," Director Keaton said.
The Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division Laboratory is an important part of public safety efforts across the state. Last year, the full-service lab received evidence from almost 19,000 criminal cases to process in the forensic fields of biology, chemistry, toxicology, trace evidence, latent prints and impressions, firearms and tool marks, questioned documents, photography and crime scene evidence collection. About 68 percent of the analyses requested came from local law enforcement agencies.
The lab headquarters, located in a 68,000 sq. ft. facility in Pikesville, also houses Marylands DNA database and is the state level access point to the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). There are more than 96,000 convicted offender samples currently in the database and it has been used to identify criminals or connect crime scenes more than 2,300 times. The Forensic Sciences Division also includes satellite laboratories in Hagerstown and Berlin as well as 13 crime scene offices located at State Police barracks throughout Maryland.
The State Police lab was first accredited by ASCLD/LAB in 2000 under the Legacy program. The lab renewed accreditation in 2005. Reaching the highest level of accreditation for a forensic laboratory was an ongoing goal for lab management and took over two years to accomplish.
The international accreditation requirements focus on detailed information concerning every aspect of the laboratory operations and its personnel. Outside forensic experts examine the competency of personnel and the management system, as well as the quality of technical operations including the quality assurance program. Areas examined include a review of case files, a review of annual proficiency testing results of all lab personnel, the document control of procedure manuals, the calibration and maintenance of scientific instruments, and the quality of final result lab reports.
Lab accreditation is important for many reasons. It demonstrates to allied law enforcement agencies, the courts, and the public that the highest standards of the forensic science field are being adhered to as crime scene evidence is collected and analyzed and reported out for use in courts.
Source: Maryland State Police