Even after the report by the National Academy of Sciences recommending that forensic labs be independent of police and prosecutor’s offices, those groups still fight to give not give up control (and thereby influence the results of forensic analysis) of crime labs.
D.C.‘s top forensic scientist has been transferred out of the police department amid an increasingly bitter conflict for control of the city’s crime laboratory.
William Vosburgh was brought in amid much fanfare to assist construction of a long-delayed, $140 million crime laboratory and to build a top-flight forensic science program to match it. But after months of conflict with police department brass, he’s being “detailed” to the mayor’s office, sources with intimate knowledge of the controversy told The Examiner.
At the heart of the matter is whether the crime lab will be independent or under the authority of the police department. Vosburgh has argued internally that the lab has to be independent to prevent police from influencing forensic tests; his boss, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham, wants the lab to report to him.
Both men testified in a hearing before the D.C. Council earlier this month.
Newsham declined comment after the hearing. Vosburgh said reports of his conflict with Newsham were “no more than usual for any office.”
If cops and prosecutor’s fight this bad to keep control of “scientific truth”, shouldn’t you wonder why? Seriously. Administratively scientists are about as easy/fun to supervise as a herd of cats. There must be some unseen payoff for the police and prosecutors. Is it siphoned funding, empire building, or the ability to manipulate forensic testing to further their own agendas?
Whatever the case maybe, the public should start looking closely, and start electing public officials that are more concerned with unbiased scientific results, and less concerned with police case clearance rates, and the number of W’s in the porosecutor’s win/loss record.
Read the whole article in the Washington Examiner.