Police sergeants from across the state will be the first ones to gain access to a new Forensic Evidence Academy from the Michigan State Police. The academy is designed to teach cops about evidence collection and forensic procedures in an effort to streamline the evidence process and speed up the state’s labs. They hope to send officers through the academy beginning in 2013, after the initial “test drive.”
According to The Detroit News, the academy will provide a 40 hour course on forensics. It will assist officers in knowing how best to collect evidence, but also what to send to the lab and how to make the process easier for everyone throughout the chain of command.
Evidence changes hands many times after it is collected from a crime scene. It spends the most amount of time, however, in the hands of crime labs across the state.
These labs have severe backlogs. They can’t keep up with the evidence that comes their way. John M. Collins, executive director of the state police forensic science division would like to see evidence turned around from the lab in 30-days. But, that’s far from the current scenario.
Currently, the labs process about 80,000 cases every year and have a backlog of nearly 10,000 cases. The backlog translates into a waiting period of 158 days for firearms testing, 126 days for DNA, and 56 days in other lab tests.
An entire criminal case can hinge on this evidence. Someone could be innocent, sitting in a jail cell, while the prosecution waits for results to determine the need to push forward with charges.
From The Detroit News:
Collins said standardizing forensic evidence collection around the state will help in that effort because police who have gone through the new academy will have a better idea of how to prioritize evidence that needs to be tested from a crime scene, rather than submitting additional materials along with requests.
The program will have four hours of required classroom attendance. The rest of the training will be through webinars or online classes, Collins said.
“In this day and age, it’s difficult to send someone off to school and have them drive somewhere and sit around in a classroom,” he said.
“You have to free them up for their duties and often pay someone else overtime to cover for them. This will eliminate much of that.”
Collins said the academy will be of low or no cost to police agencies through a federal grant for programs that standardize law enforcement training.
Evidence can be the thing that ultimately sends you to prison. Similarly, errors in evidence collection can result in your acquittal. As your defense lawyer, we can look at the evidence against you and make recommendations to positively impact your case.
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