The Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division Laboratory was officially recognized today for the excellent work of its staff that has led to the renewal of its international level of accreditation, after a routine review by independent assessors was concluded.
In a brief ceremony at the lab, Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi and Director Dan Katz, head of the Forensic Sciences Division Laboratory, or ‘crime lab,’ received in-person notification from officials at the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). The crime lab possesses the highest level of accreditation given by an international crime laboratory accrediting body and was the first full-service state or local, non-federal crime lab in Maryland to receive this level of accreditation, which it received in 2011.
“The men and women of our Forensic Sciences Division continue to do outstanding work as they unlock the hidden secrets of evidence,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi said. “It is because of their dedication to the highest standards of professionalism that we are able to maintain the highest level of accreditation. Their work contributes daily to the criminal justice efforts of police, prosecutors, and defense attorneys across Maryland. Our citizens can have confidence that the forensic services provided by our crime lab meet the international standards of quality.”
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 over 13,000 criminal cases to process in the forensic fields of biology, drug chemistry, toxicology, trace evidence, latent prints and impressions, firearms and tool marks, questioned documents, photography and crime scene evidence collection. Approximately 75 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 Maryland’s DNA database and is the state level access point to the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). There are more than 150,000 total offender samples currently in the database and it has been used to identify criminals or connect crime scenes more than 4,600 times.
The Forensic Sciences Division also includes satellite laboratories in Hagerstown and Berlin as well as 12 crime scene offices located at State Police barracks throughout Maryland and one situated at the Cumberland City Police Department with the Combined County Criminal Investigation team.
The State Police lab was first accredited by ASCLD/LAB in 2000 under the Legacy program. The lab renewed its Legacy accreditation in 2005. In 2011, the lab achieved ASCLD/LAB accreditation under the International program for the first time. Now, in 2016, the lab has achieved re-accreditation to the International program standards.
The international re-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, but are not limited to, 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 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, analyzed and reported out for use in court testimony.
Left to right: Col. William Pallozzi, Superintendent; Major David Ruel, Acting Chief, Criminal Investigation Bureau; First Sergeant Laura Beck. Lab Assistant Commander; Theresa DeAngelo, Lab Quality Assurance and Safety Manager; Dr. Wanda Kuperus, Lab Deputy Director, Daniel Katz, Lab Director; Anja Einsein, ASCLD/LAB (Photo credit: Amy Hager, MSP Crime Lab)