Years of hard work were recognized recently when a national forensic science accrediting agency conferred accreditation to the entire Massachusetts State Police Forensic Services Group, the nine facilities across the state that collect and analyze forensic evidence in criminal cases. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and the State Police called the accreditation a "gold standard" for forensic laboratories and gives citizens of the state assurance that the analysis of evidence performed at State Police facilities meets the highest standards of the field.
To achieve the accreditation, the State Police Forensic Services Group voluntarily undertook a rigorous process to satisfy more than 150 criteria, and also underwent an external, independent review of their scientific and operational procedures. The accreditation was conferred by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board. A member of that organization, Jami J. St. Clair, joined Secretary of Public Safety Kevin M. Burke and Colonel Mark F. Delaney, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, at a ceremony held February 5 at the state's Forensic and Technology Center in Maynard to mark the achievement.
Added Colonel Delaney: "Reliable and timely forensic testing of criminal evidence has become the foundation of our criminal justice system's ability to deliver justice to the guilty and exonerate the innocent. The national accreditation of the State Police Forensic Services crime laboratories ensures that the people of the Commonwealth will continue to receive the highest levels of service available from the forensic sciences."
The State Police Forensic Services Group's nine facilities are located regionally across the state. Many of the facilities are multi-disciplinary, offering services including crime scene evidence collection and preservation, DNA and trace evidence analysis, latent print comparisons and ballistics examinations. Quality systems are in place at every State Police forensic facility to ensure consistent testing and reporting by civilian scientists and sworn state troopers.
The accreditation process additionally included improvements to forensic facilities. State Police laboratories in Danvers, Lakeville and Springfield have undergone renovations to ensure compliance with accreditation standards. Other sub-laboratories have seen security and safety upgrades, along with new equipment and protocols.
The most recent accreditation marked the first time the entire State Police Forensic Services Group as a whole has achieved that standard. The State Police Crime Laboratory, which performs such scientific tests as DNA analysis and controlled substance testing, was previously accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board in 2002, and was re-accredited in 2007. A re-organization of the State Police Forensic Services Group in 2007 placed all forensic entities under a single director and enabled the State Police to accredit the additional forensic disciplines. As of today's full accreditation, all forensic work being done by Massachusetts State Police, whether conducted by civilian scientists or state troopers, has been determined to meet the rigorous external standards of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.