972 L.A. Drug Cases Checked After Lab Foulup

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A Los Angeles police chemist botched evidence in 47 narcotics cases, leading to a review of all 972 drug cases he handled, reports the Los Angeles Times. The errors have prompted inquires by the Los Angeles Police Department and prosecutors and raised questions about the credibility of Jeff Lowe, who has analyzed drugs for the LAPD since May 2003.

The problems at the crime lab follow by a decade the O.J. Simpson murder case, when the lab was harshly criticized for how it collected and stored evidence. They come at an inopportune time for law enforcement officials across Los Angeles County, who are trying to persuade voters to approve a tax increase to support local police. Crime lab supervisors believe the discrepancies were inadvertent and may have been caused by Lowe’s failure to weigh the drugs separately from the containers in which they were seized. Lowe, 33, was removed from casework, retrained and tested for competency, but is now back on the job as one of 10 criminalists in the narcotics analysis unit. Prosecutors do not believe any cases have been compromised as a result of Lowe’s errors; defense attorneys disagree.

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lab2sep02,1,7276739.story?coll=la-headlines-california

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