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March 2014 - IAPE Monthly Newsletter

Ask Joe!

Each month, IAPE's primary instructor, Joe Latta, answers one of your questions. Consider writing us if you have a question that needs an answer. We would love to hear from you. To submit a question for Joe to answer here, use our Contact Us page.

Question:

Dear Joe:

 

I have attended several of your training classes here in Florida and have attempted to develop a purging system where every item of evidence is reviewed at least annually. Unfortunately, when I send the Purging Notices, about 500 per month, I only get about a 50% return on the transmitted notices. What do you recommend to get more people to understand who this impacts?

 

Thanks,

            C. G. Backett

 

Answer:

Dear Can't Get It  Backett,

 

First of all, you have taken on the task of sending out Purging Notices which is commendable. However, has the department developed a written policy that officers must respond by a certain time, such as 7 - 10 days?

 

Once the written policy is endorsed by the Chief, then comes the notification process.  I'm only guessing, that if you prepared the packet of Purging Notices and if they were signed by the Chief, the response rate would be near 100%. If they are sent by the Captain the rate may be 90%, the Lieutenant 80%, etc.  Are your Purging Notices coming from the Property Room or from you personally? Personalizing can help, versus the Property Room.  I'm not in any way proposing the Chief send they notices personally but I will say that the " higher the rank, the higher the response rate."  Can they be sent with a cover memo from you Commanding Officer? Your Sergeant?  Some agencies send all of the Purging Notices from the Property Room's Commanding Officer to the Commanding Officer of the Detectives, who then distributes them accordingly. 

 

With any review and purging system, there also needs to be tracking and follow-up. When Purging Notices are not responded to by the date selected, they must be given to your supervisor/manager for immediate follow-up of the Detective or Officers supervisor.  Your inventory can easily double every few years with only a 50% response.

 

 

Regards,

 

Joe Latta


THE EVENT IS NOW A TREND
IT CAN HAPPEN IN
CRIME LAB  AND MEDICAL EXAMINERS
PROPERTY ROOMS TOO
!
In Just One Month!

 

FDLE lab fallout continues

Published: March 4, 2014  

Daily News

 

PANAMA CITY - Prosecutors had a lot of work dropped on their plate in the wake of the arrest of a former state crime lab drug analyst accused of stealing prescription drugs submitted as criminal evidence.

 

The attorney for one man convicted in part by his testimony said they're making new mistakes and further contaminating evidence. Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Wilson said prosecutors in the 14th Judicial Circuit have identified 349 closed cases and another 18 pending cases which the Pensacola-based analyst, Joseph Graves, was involved. "Obviously, his credibility is an issue for anything," Wilson said of Graves.

 

Prosecutors are focusing first on the pending cases to make sure they are still viable, Wilson said. The next priority is closed cases that might have gone to trial, and prosecutors in the 14th circuit already have identified two of those that resulted in convictions, Wilson said.

 

Prosecutors filed motions in those two cases asking the judge to order the Clerk of Courts, which maintains criminal evidence for a prescribed period of time after a case is closed, to release the evidence to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for retesting in Orlando.

The results of the retest will determine whether prosecutors actually have the evidence they thought. Even if the pills they believe are prescription-only oxycodones turned out to be over-the-counter aspirins, for example, prosecutors might have other options to prove their cases: the results of field testing that police perform at the time of the seizure, for instance, or photographs of the pills, Wilson said.

 

TREND

  

Drug Scandal hits Medical Examiners Officer   

Published February 22, 2014

delawareonline - The News Journal

  

In a growing scandal, investigators have discovered drugs sent to the Delaware Medical Examiner's Office for testing between 2010 and 2012 have gone missing - sometimes replaced with fakes - imperiling more than a dozen drug prosecutions and possibly many more.  

 

The problem was discovered by prosecutors earlier this month at trial during a Kent County drug prosecution, according to State Prosecutor Kathleen Jennings. Since then she said the office has been moving quickly to investigate and notify the courts and defense attorneys.

The full scope of the problem is not yet known and investigators have not yet identified a suspect. But at least 15 cases have been flagged by investigators as having tainted or missing evidence.

 

 TREND - Continues

Former State Crime Lab Employee Charged in Drug Tampering - Alaska

Published March 6, 2014

Channel 2 KTUU 


ANCHORAGE - A former employee of Alaska's state crime lab faces 10 charges, including six felonies, after Alaska State Troopers say he tampered with drugs kept at the lab while addicted to heroin.

According to Thursday statements from the Alaska Department of law, 53-year-old Stephen Palmer worked at the crime lab as an analyst from May 1992 until resigning on Dec. 1, 2011. He is charged with scheme to defraud, second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and four counts of tampering with physical evidence, in addition to four misdemeanor counts of official misconduct.

The case potentially offers answers to concerns about the crime lab's reference samples, used to determine the nature of seized drugs, which first came to light in January. Defense attorneys had said the irregularities reported at the time, involving morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, opium, codeine and amphetamine reference samples, could call into question numerous state drug cases -- a position prosecutors refuted Thursday.

 

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