Detroit Crime Lab Employees Report Stress, Paranoia


Scientists told the Detroit City Council that the closing of the city’s police crime lab was hasty and left a slew of employees with tarnished reputations and job uncertainty, reports the Detroit Free Press. Cathy Carr, 50, a senior forensic biologist, said the closure left her colleagues full of paranoia and stress. Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. and Police Chief James Barren closed the lab, which employs about 68 people, last week after a preliminary audit indicated a 10 percent rate of inaccuracies related to ballistics evidence testing involving firearms.

Carr, a 13-year employee, said it’s unfair to blame the entire crime lab for the ballistics problems. “What happens in one unit does not trickle down into what happens in all units,” she said. Last month, former Detroit Police Deputy Chief Paula Lytle, who headed the lab, said the staff is overworked, understaffed, and underpaid. The lab handles polygraphs, photographs, firearms, bombs, fingerprints, DNA, drugs and trace evidence like footprints and fibers. Lytle retired after the lab was closed. There are about 4,000 backlogged chemistry and biological cases. The lab’s accreditation for its work with DNA and biological materials will be lost because of the shutdown of the entire unit, said Patricia Wojtowicz of Tampa-based Forensic Quality Services-International, which evaluates crime labs.


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