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Pasadena Police Department to Upgrade Forensics Laboratory

Current lab would not receive accreditation

Published on Thursday, July 30, 2020 | 10:12 am

The police department will spend up to $117,857 for forensic laboratory equipment.

The upgrades will bring the Pasadena Police Forensic Laboratory in compliance with accreditation standards and were okayed by the City Council on Monday as part of the consent calendar.

Presently, Federal crime labs such as ATF, DEA, and FBI, are conforming to accreditation and oversight from outside verifying bodies such as ILAC (International Laboratory Accreditation Company) to ensure conformity and have oversight over laboratory condition and procedures.

“The present condition of the Pasadena Police Forensic Unit laboratory would not meet the standards for accreditation,” according to a staff report. “In the near future, the Pasadena Police Department may eventually be required to adhere to accreditation standards.”

The unit collects and documents physical evidence collected at crime scenes and provides evidence collection services to the neighboring cities of South Pasadena and San Marino.

The unit also performs advanced evidence processing for latent fingerprint development, DNA collection from evidence collected at crime scenes, photography of crime scenes and victims of crimes, evidence collection and packaging, crime scene documentation and courtroom testimony and presentation of evidence.

In 2019, the unit responded to 1,775 calls for evidence collection within Pasadena and an additional 55 requests for evidence collection in South Pasadena and San Marino. In 2019, fingerprints were recovered in over 200 cases and 45 LAFIS (Los Angeles Automated Fingerprint Identification System) makes were positively identified by the Pasadena Police Forensic Unit.

The lab space and equipment has not been upgraded or improved since its inception in 1996.

The fume hood, a ventilation device that is designed to limit exposure to hazardous or toxic fumes, vapors or dusts, dates back to 1990.

The required upgrades to the laboratory will allow Forensic Specialists more physical space to properly process and package evidence.

Additional improvements will include additional storage, counter space and equipment for evidence packaging and processing.

Other upgrades will include installation of laboratory grade cabinets and countertops, evidence storage lockers, and an evidence drying cabinet as well as replacement of a fume hood and purchase of a metal evidence table. The proposed project would not increase the capacity or result in an expansion of use. There are no features that distinguish this project from others in the exempt class and, therefore, there are no unusual circumstances.

Funds will come from the Major Crimes account.

“The update with the forensic lab is likely a decade overdue and it is critically needed for the next step which is state forensic certification,” said Police Chief John Perez. “This will allow us to investigate crime more efficiently and effectively in holding people responsible for violent incidents and other types of crimes.”

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