The St. Paul police crime lab is suspending some drug testing as part of a major overhaul to repair a reputation damaged by revelations of shoddy work, poor training and a lack of standards, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Testimony at a court hearing this week prompted several local prosecutors and police agencies who had relied on the lab to analyze drugs to send their cases to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension instead.
St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith said the department will review and reorganize leadership in the lab, explore additional technical expertise and review pending narcotics cases. Public defenders Lauri Traub and Christine Funk had called for the hearing that challenged the St. Paul lab’s work in eight drug cases and suggested the problems could cast doubt on many more past and pending prosecutions. Even several staff members admitted that their work was not good science. “Certainly, we were surprised at some of the answers — kind of stupefied by some of them,” said Fred Fink, head of the Washington County attorney’s criminal division.