With the disclosure that two New York City police crime lab workers reported false results in testing drug bags, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered a shakeup of the Forensic Investigations Division and the creation of an oversight panel, reports the New York Times. The changes were a rebuke to the forensic unit's former commander, Deputy Chief Denis McCarthy, who had been transferred to a patrol division. McCarthy, a 27-year department veteran, was in charge in 2002 when the employees were found to have engaged in “dry-labbing,” or cutting corners in the process of testing for drugs during an internal integrity test. The forensics unit failed to report the incident to state officials and to a national accreditation board, as it is required to do.
McCarthy's transfer and the 2002 drug testing falsification were first reported by The New York Post. Peter Neufeld, a lawyer and co-founder of the Innocence Project, said it was unclear how many cases were affected in New York and elsewhere by such falsified lab work. Creation of an oversight panel made up mainly of police personnel does not go far enough, Neufeld said: “Whenever you have a scandal like this, it is essential to bring in an independent entity without any possibility of conflicts of interest.”