The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board restored the state’s crime lab accreditation Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced in a statement.
The Connecticut Forensic Science Lab lost its national accreditation in August after two federal audits brought to light the facility’s staffing shortages and a forensic backlog of several thousand cases. Malloy called the backlog was intolerable and said the lab’s condition was due to years of neglect and under-staffing.
Since then, he put together a working group of experts to address the facility’s systemic problems and authorized funding for increased staffing. On Tuesday he said the improvements paid off.
“The decision today by the accreditation panel is welcomed news and certainly a positive step forward as we continue making improvements to restore the state’s crime lab,” Malloy said. “… My administration will continue its efforts to implement improved procedures and provide the critical resources necessary, so that once again the crime lab will be a national model.”
When the lab lost its national accreditation in August, it lost its access to the FBI’s national DNA database. As a result, the state couldn’t compare evidence found at a crime scene against a national pool if nothing turns up in the state databases, he said.
“With this good news, we can immediately seek full access to the FBI DNA data bank, and we are optimistic that will happen soon,” Mike Lawlor, Malloy’s criminal justice under secretary, said in a statement.
“Assuming the only real obstacle for access is a lack of accreditation, we should be hearing from [the FBI] soon,” he said in a phone interview. “If there’s more that they need we’ll get it to them and we should be good to go.”
In December, Lawlor said the lack of access to the data bank had put some criminal trails on hold temporarily. He said, while it wasn’t a pressing issue at the time, the state would have had “a serious problem” on its hands if the lab was not re-accredited this month as he was expecting.