CSI Terminated for Using Personal ALS at Crime Scene

An October 26, 2018 press release from the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston, Texas stated that a crime scene investigator was terminated "following an investigation into a quality incident that revealed she had violated policy and protocol while conducting work on evidence."

According to the press release, the CSI used her own alternate light source at crime scenes involving two sexual assault cases, but the ALS did not meet specifications outlined in HFSC procedures. Although HFSC procedures require a specific range of wavelengths, the CSI's instrument operates on only one wavelength.

"The quality manual, a document that guides all the Center’s forensic work, also states equipment not supplied by the company will be tested by HFSC staff to ensure it meets accreditation requirements," said the press release.

In a technical review of the case file, an HFSC supervisor discovered the issue and raised the issue to the CSI. At that time, it was discovered that the CSI had not followed proper quality-control procedures, and further had utilized her own instrument at the scene.

This prompted an investigation and reexamination of the evidence in question using HFSC-issued ALS devices. Although the CSI had reported negative results on eight evidence items, during retesting with HFSC instruments, three came back positive for biological fluids.

“Protocols and procedures are in place at HFSC to help ensure quality scientific results are provided to stakeholders. When protocol is violated incidents like this occur and HFSC cannot tolerate such conduct,” said Dr. Peter Stout, HFSC’s CEO and president.

“The work done by HFSC has enormous impacts on people’s lives, the justice system and the community. We take that responsibility seriously and believe we have an obligation to hold ourselves to the highest standards,” Dr. Stout added.

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