One employee has been fired and another five suspended from state crime labs as of Friday, January 20 by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for failing to properly test drug evidence brought in by law enforcement officials.
According to Thomas Stickrath, BCI Director, the investigation into the employees, one at the BCI lab in Bowling Green and five at the lab in Richfield, began back in October of 2016 following an internal review it was discovered in an internal review that there were mistakes made when the scientists recorded which drug tests were performed.
“When you are working within a crime lab, I have zero tolerance for policy and procedure violations,” he said. “I expect full accountability.”
Stickrath reported that in one case, one of the chemists improperly logged how he tested drug evidence nearly two dozen times over six months. While none of the mistakes compromised a criminal investigation, they were still considered serious by the director.
BCI has also revised their testing protocol for drug cases in order to ensure objective documentation of results, and have implemented remedial case-documentation training and ethics training, according to Stickrath.
Over the past five years, the BCI has initiated 14 internal investigations according to internal documents. Stickrath stated that he’s working to eliminate problems in the agency as he helps build the labs into a national leader, and sees these tougher standards and investigations as a positive indication for the future.
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<“We have a lot of good scientists here who do a lot of good work,” Stickrath said. “But we want to prevent and correct any mistakes, and that’s the broad reason we have adopted a more aggressive review program. My goal is to use all of this as an opportunity to improve.”