ASCLD Accreditation Brochure (FSC, April 1999)
April 1999 - Volume 1 - Number 1
What Is ASCLD/LAB Accreditation?
The Crime Laboratory Accreditation Program of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) is a voluntary program in which any crime laboratory may participate to demonstrate that its management, operations, personnel, procedures and instruments, physical plant and security, and personnel safety procedures meet certain standards. The accreditation process is one form of a quality assurance program, which may be combined with proficiency testing, continuing education, and other programs to help the laboratory strive to give better overall service to the criminal justice system. The process of self-evaluation which leads to accreditation is in itself a valuable management tool for the crime laboratory director. (The fact that a laboratory chooses not to apply for accreditation does not imply that a laboratory is inadequate or that its results cannot be trusted.)
What Are the Objectives?
The Laboratory Accreditation Board has adopted four accreditation objectives which clearly define the purpose and nature of the program. They are:
1. To improve the quality of laboratory services provided to the criminal justice system.
2. To offer to the general public and to users of laboratory services a means of identifying
throughout the nation those laboratory facilities which satisfy accreditation criteria.
3. To develop and maintain criteria which can be used by a laboratory to assess its level of performance and to strengthen its operation.
4. To provide an independent, impartial and objective system by which laboratory facilities can benefit from a total organizational review.
What Is the Major Requirement?
It is required for quality assessment and control that a crime laboratory participate in a program or combination of programs which include the following:
1. Periodic case report and case note review done on an internal basis. This type of review assures that the examiners are following the laboratory’s established procedures and that the findings are properly documented; and
2. Proficiency testing (internal and/or external) involving the use of blind and/or open samples of which the “true” results are unknown to the examiner prior to the analysis.
What Are the Main Areas Inspected?
The inspection includes the following main areas:
- Facilities and equipment
- Written operating and technical procedures
- Interviews of the technical staff
- Review of casework reports and supporting documentation
What Is the Process?
Crime laboratory directors seeking information about laboratory accreditation should direct their inquiries to the Executive Secretary of the ASCLD/LAB. An ASCLD/LAB Accreditation Manual can be obtained from the Executive Secretary for a fee. The process need not go any further; there is no obligation on the part of the crime laboratory director. The laboratory director may elect to evaluate his/her own laboratory for the purpose of self-improvement without seeking accreditation. This is done without incurring obligation or expense beyond the cost of the manual. When the crime laboratory director determines that his laboratory is prepared, he may elect to apply formally for accreditation following the instructions included in the manual.
The process may continue as follows:
I . Self-evaluation by applicant laboratory
2. Application and supporting documents filed by applicant laboratory
3. On-site inspection by a team of trained inspectors
4. Inspection report considered by ASCLD/ Laboratory Accreditation Board
5. One year to remedy deficiencies before final decision by the Board.
6. Accreditation review report completed by the laboratory annually.
7. Full re-inspection required every five years
8. An annual maintenance fee of $500.00 must be paid by each accredited laboratory.
What Types of Standards Are There?
Essential: Standards which directly affect and have fundamental impact on the work product of the laboratory or the integrity of the evidence. The laboratory must meet 100% of the Essential Standards.
Important: Standards which are considered key indicators of the overall quality of the laboratory but may not directly affect the work product or the integrity of the evidence. The laboratory must meet 70% of the Important Standards.
Desirable: Standards which have the least effect on the work product or the integrity of the evidence but which nevertheless enhance the work product of the laboratory. The laboratory must meet 50% of the Desirable Standards.
What Is Gained by Earning Accreditation?
Once a laboratory has successfully completed the accreditation process, it is appropriate that this achievement be publicly recognized. The ASCLD/LAB encourages laboratories to mark the occasion with a ceremony at which the Chair of the ASCLD/LAB, or his/her representative, will formally present the accreditation certificate. The accreditation ceremony and attendant media coverage serve the dual purposes of demonstrating the capabilities of the laboratory to its users and of publicizing the accreditation program. Directors of Laboratories and Laboratory Systems which achieve accreditation become voting members of the Delegate Assembly, which is the governing body or the accreditation program.
Who to Contact for Further Information?
The Executive Secretary of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board:
Mr. Ralph Keaton
146 Nicklaus Drive
Garner, NC 27529
Phone (919) 773-2600
Fax (919) 773-2602
E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will You Make the Decision
to Strive to Become an Accredited Forensic Science Laboratory?
Laboratories That Have Earned
as of September 15,1998
Albuquerque (NM) Police Department
Bexar County (TX) Forensic Science Center
DuPage County (IL) Sheriffs Department
Erie County (NY) Police Laboratory
Los Angeles County (CA) Sheriff’s Department
Los Angeles County (CA) Coroner Laboratory
Miami-Dade (FL) Police Department
Miami Valley (OH) Crime Laboratory
Monroe County (NY) Public Safety Laboratory
Nassau County (NY) Medical Examiner’s Office
Nassau County (NY) Police Department
Niagara County (NY) Sheriffs Department
North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory System (3 Laboratories)
New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Northern Illinois Police Crime Laboratory
Oakland (CA) Police Department Onondaga County (NY)
Medical Examiner’s Office
Onondaga County (NY) Sheriff’s Department
Orange County (CA) Sheriff’s Department
Palm Beach County (FL) Sheriff s Office
Pinellas County (FL) Forensic Laboratory
St. Louis (MO) Metro Police Department
San Bernardino County (CA) Sheriff’s Office
San Diego (CA) Police Department
Santa Clara County (CA) District Attorney’s Lab
Scottsdale (AZ) Police Department
Suffolk County (NY) Crime Laboratory
Tucson City/ County (AZ) Police Laboratory
Washoe County (NV) Sheriff s Office
Weld County (CO) Sheriff’s Department
Westchester County (NY) Dept of Public Safety Ballistics Unit
Westchester County (NY) Forensic Crime Laboratory
Yonkers (NY) Police Department
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (3 Laboratories)
Department of Defense, AFIP, DNA Registry
Drug Enforcement Administration (8 Laboratories)
Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory
Naval Criminal Investigative Service Laboratories (2 Laboratories)
USACIL-CONUS, Fort Gillem (GA)
United States Secret Service
Alaska Department of Public Safety (1 Laboratory)
Arizona Department of Public Safety (4 Laboratories)
California Department of Justice (13 Laboratories)
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (6 Laboratories)
Idaho Department of Law Enforcement (3 Laboratories)
Illinois State Police (9 Laboratories)
Indiana State Police (4 Laboratories)
Kansas Bureau of Investigation (2 Laboratories)
Michigan State Police (7 Laboratories)
Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (1 Laboratory)
Missouri State Highway Patrol (6 Laboratories)
North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (2 Laboratories)
New York State Police (4 Laboratories)
Oregon State Police (8 Laboratories)
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (1 Laboratory)
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (4 Laboratories)
Texas Department of Public Safety (13 Laboratories)
Texas Commission on Fire Protection (1 Laboratory)
Utah Department of Public Safety (3 Laboratories)
Virginia Division of Forensic Sciences (4 Laboratories)
Washington State Patrol (6 Laboratories)
West Virginia State Police (1 Laboratory)
Wisconsin Department of Justice (3 Laboratories)
Australian Federal Police (5 Laboratories)
Centre of Forensic Sciences (Toronto, Canada)
Forensic Science Centre of Adelaide (Adelaide, Australia)
Forensic Science Laboratory—Chemistry Centre (Perth, Australia)
Institute of Science and Forensic Medicine (Singapore)
Hong Kong Government Laboratory
New Zealand Institute of Environmental Science & Research (3 Labs)
New Zealand Police Questioned Documents Section, Wellington
State Forensic Science Laboratory (Adelaide, Australia)
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (Southbank, Australia)
Cellmark Diagnostics (Germantown, Maryland)
GeneLex Corporation (Seattle, Washington)
Laboratory Corporation of America
(Research Triangle Park, North Carolina)