The North Carolina State Crime Laboratory has achieved accreditation under tough new international standards.
The lab received notice last month from Forensic Quality Services (FQS) that it has achieved accreditation under ISO 17025, which provides a global basis for laboratory accreditation in management and technical requirements.
“Quality work by the crime lab is critical to solving crimes and ensuring justice for victims and suspects,” Attorney General Roy Cooper said. “I’m proud of our forensic science professionals for achieving the highest standards and pursuing the latest science.”
In addition to the new accreditation achieved this week, the lab remains accredited by the nation’s largest accrediting group, American Society of Crime Lab Director Lab Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB) and is seeking to become the only crime lab in the country to be ISO accredited by two outside organizations.
The State Crime Lab analyzes crime scene evidence including digital evidence, drugs, DNA, firearms, fingerprints, hair and fibers. Analysis by forensic scientists working for the lab can pinpoint suspects and exonerate the innocent.
“Our forensic scientists are hard-working, dedicated public servants,” SBI Director Greg McLeod said. “Achieving this milestone is the result of a total team effort and clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to excellence and the pursuit of justice.”
“Our scientists are experts in their fields who follow precise scientific standards, record accurate results, and let the chips fall where they may,” said Judge Joe John, State Crime Lab Director. “I’m proud of their dedication in achieving these high standards which will make our lab even stronger and better.”
The new ISO standards have undergone intensive legal and practical review, John said, resulting in a thorough evaluation prior to implementation. The North Carolina Forensic Science Advisory Board, made up of forensic experts from around the country, has also reviewed the standards.
Information on the ISO standards under which the State Crime Lab is currently working are available online at www.ncdoj.gov.
The State Crime Lab has three facilities: the main lab in Raleigh, a full-service crime lab providing analysis of crime scene evidence for law enforcement statewide; and two limitedservice regional laboratories in Greensboro and Asheville.
The lab’s main facility in Raleigh is now ISO accredited in all disciplines in which it operates: drugs, toxicology, biology (DNA), firearms, trace, latent and digital evidence. The Triad Regional Crime Lab has achieved ISO accreditation for drugs and digital evidence, while the Western Regional Crime Lab has achieved ISO accreditation for drugs, firearms, trace and latent evidence.
Cooper is currently seeking funding from the General Assembly to expand the Triad and Western labs to include DNA and toxicology.
“Our criminal justice system depends on accurate, timely forensic analysis and the legislature needs to provide us with resources to get the job done,” Cooper said.
The North Carolina State Crime Lab has been accredited by ASCLD-LAB since 1988 and with each reaccreditation must undergo a full review of the laboratory including an onsite inspection of the forensic disciplines. This is the lab’s first year to also seek and achieve accreditation by FQS.