The only outsiders invited to review the work of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s lab for the past 20 years missed all the problems revealed this month by two former FBI agents and newspaper reporters, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. No one at the accreditation agency, or others familiar with its work, seems to be surprised. ASCLD-LAB, a group led by former SBI agents, is the leading accreditation agency for crime labs nationwide. It reviews cases selected by supervisors in the agency being audited, and it does that only every five years.
“Am I surprised we didn’t see a problem? Not really,” said Michael Grubb, chairman of ASCLD-LAB and director of the San Diego Police Crime Lab. “Every case they work is not examined. It’s a relatively small number.” Chris Swecker, a former FBI assistant director who conducted the recent blood analysis audit, said, “There’s this idea that ASCLD-LAB is infallible and the oracle of all accreditation. It was surprising to me that they didn’t get a better sense of what was going on in the lab all those years.” The SBI lab’s work has come under fire this summer, shattering any notion that its work is unblemished. The News & Observer reported that analysts have bent rules and pushed past the bounds of accepted science to deliver reports that bolstered prosecutors’ cases.