SBI plans to name lab director within 60 days

January 13, 2011 2:45:07 PM PST
State Bureau of Investigation director Greg McLeod said Thursday he hopes to name a permanent state crime lab director within the next 60 days.

The SBI and its crime lab's reputation have been tarnished by revelations about how agents handled blood evidence.

Problems at the lab have been the subject of media reports for months. In August, a report by independent investigators found that SBI agents helped prosecutors obtain convictions over a 16-year period by misrepresenting blood evidence and keeping critical notes from defense lawyers.

An outside review last year found some 200 cases that were improperly handled during a 16-year period ending in 2003.

Many of those cases were connected with veteran agent Duane Deaver, who was fired last week.

Deaver says he plans to appeal the firing. His attorney contends Deaver was fired for three issues that aren't grounds for termination.

In October, Attorney General Roy Cooper named a retired judge to oversee the troubled lab on an interim basis while a national search for a new director continues.

McLeod said Thursday his agency is doing a thorough review of internal practices and has visited the national FBI lab to look at how things are done there.

"My focus is not speed. It's methodical review," said McLeod.

The SBI gave ABC11 a list of the changes that are ongoing and completed:

ONGOING:

- Hire lab director

- Establish science advisory group

- Legal review of all lab sections (due March 2011)

- Scanning historic files - more than a million

- 2 DNA audits

- Firearms and ballistics review

- Lab under int’l ISO accreditation (due spring 2011)

- Additional certification for SBI forensic scientists (due summer 2011)

- Review blood spatter program

- Deploy cameras in firearms section of lab (due summer 2011)

- Dual ISO accreditation (due fall 2011)

- Lab policies online

WHAT’S BEEN DONE SO FAR:

- SBI lab reports and notes online

- Case files in audit to das

- Suspend blood spatter program

- Pitt County ballistics independent analysis

- Forensic science partnership with NC State, RTO, and Fayetteville State.

- Drug chemistry use ISO sampling standards

- Improved feedback from court participants

- Appoint ombudsman

- Appoint new SBI director

- Appoint acting lab director

- Appoint lab director search committee and engage search firm for national search

- Assign legal team to SBI lab

- Remove audit analysts from case work

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