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Crime Lab Staffing Problems

    Subject of Investigation

    The Sacramento County Crime Laboratory shares a new building with the County Coroner's Office. The building was completed in 1996.

    Reason for Investigation

    The Sacramento Grand Jury selected the Crime Laboratory as part of its on-going assignment to review County agencies and departments.

    Procedures

    The Grand Jury prepared and sent a list of questions to the Director of the Crime Laboratory prior to the visit. The Director responded to these questions in a presentation, after which the Grand Jury toured the facility.

    Findings

    The Crime Laboratory provides high-tech forensic services to the Sacramento County Sheriff, the Coroner, police departments of individual cities, and fire departments of the county. It also supplies services to a number of state agencies.

    The Sacramento Crime Laboratory is administered by the District Attorney. It has an annual budget of 6.7 million dollars. The facility is uniquely designed with a configuration of ten specific-purpose laboratories. The building was designed with space for expansion. It is a full service crime laboratory that deals with arson, evidence control, controlled substances, clandestine laboratories, toxicology, and blood/breath alcohol. Specialties are in DNA analysis and ballistics identification. The laboratory has state-of-the-art equipment which is updated on a five year replacement cycle.

    The laboratory has a backlog of cases. Operations at the laboratory have been hampered by a lack of personnel in authorized positions. The Crime Laboratory has 29 criminologists and forensic laboratory technician positions. Of these 29, four (14%) are unfilled. The County Human Resources Agency has not developed a test for these specialties. The Grand Jury was informed that tests are known to be available. The Human Resources Agency has further failed to authorize hiring on a provisional basis. If fully staffed, this facility would be well positioned to process contract work.

    Recommendations

    1. The County Executive should immediately investigate the reasons for the lag in filling positions.

    2. When fully staffed the Crime Laboratory should explore the possibility of contract work.

    Response Required

    The Penal Code requires that responses to all of the recommendations contained in this Report be submitted to the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento Superior Court by September 30, 2000, from:

      · County Executive
      · District Attorney

1999/2000 Sacramento County Grand Jury - Final Report (Internet Version) June 30, 2000

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