ST. PAUL, Minn. - In an effort to perhaps calm the storm, St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith announced late Thursday that all drug testing would be stopped at the St. Paul Police Crime Lab.
Halted indefinitely in light of testimony in a Dakota County Courtroom by lab technicians earlierthis week whoadmitted the lab was not accredited, nor did it have standard operating procedures in place.
"I'm going to do everything, and I mean everything no stones unturned that we get back to exceptional standards in the crime lab that I expect and the public expects," Chief Smith said.
Smith said he removed the existing director of the lab from his job duties and has replaced him with the head of the department's internal affairs divisions.
Second, Chief Smith said all pending drug cases will be sent to other labs for testing.
When it comes to past cases, that is going to fall into the hands of county prosecutors and it will be a laborious task.
"It's frustrating because we are going to have to do a lot of work we didn't ask for but at the end of the day this is what justice requires," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said.
Ramsey, Dakota and Washington County prosecutors will now start going through narcotics cases they have pending and have them re-assessed, Choi says that could mean cases that depend on test results from St. Paul's crime lab, could be continued or re-charged.
"It puts into question the conclusions that are being made by investigators and ultimately we rely on those conclusions in a court of law as evidence to prove someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Choi said.
St. Paul's lab remains open to testing ballistics and fingerprinting.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will likely get the drug cases normally headed for St. Paul's crime lab.
A spokesperson for the BCA said she couldn't predict a backlog because she doesn't know the volume of cases the agency will receive.