Lansing — Michigan State Police officials announced Thursday that the state's seven forensic crime labs have been reaccredited, ending more than a year of extensions from a national agency and reports of problems with record-keeping and evidence handling.
The accreditation follows extensive inspections of the labs in December by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
State Police officials had expressed confidence they would meet all the standards, and they defended the labs' work.
"This achievement, while always expected, is especially noteworthy this time considering our laboratories were inspected under the new ASCLD/LAB International ISO-based Accreditation Program," State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said in a news release Thursday.
"Obtaining this accreditation is testimony of the caliber of employees we have in our Forensic Science Division and their commitment to providing the best in forensic services to our criminal justice community."
The national group had given State Police three extensions to meet criteria, most recently in April, with a final deadline of this month. The accreditation board issued 118 "corrective action requests," citing such deficiencies as improper storage of chemicals, incomplete records of evidence tests and security issues, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News under the Freedom of Information Act.
While not mandatory, the accreditation reflects that a public or private laboratory has demonstrated its management, personnel, operational and technical procedures, and equipment and physical facilities meet established standards. It is good for five years, said board executive director Ralph Keaton on Thursday.
The approvals also recognize a biometrics and identification division created by State Police in 2011, said department spokeswoman Shannon Banner.
The State Police labs, based in Bridgeport, Grand Rapids, Grayling, Lansing, Marquette, Northville and Sterling Heights, analyze critical crime scene evidence for police agencies across Michigan.
They have been accredited since September 1984, and losing that status would likely have affected pending court cases and provided defense attorneys with another reason to question the quality of evidence brought into court. The State Police facilities are among more than 380 laboratories worldwide that hold the accreditation.