The following statement can be attributed to Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6), chair of the DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety:
“Yesterday, the Department of Forensic Sciences (“DFS”) publicly released the DC Department of Forensic Sciences Laboratory Assessment Report, prepared by SNA International. The report was contracted by the Executive to better understand the path toward reaccreditation of portions of DFS and to offer a comprehensive assessment of the agency. The final report effectively recommends a top-to-bottom overhaul of DFS, including leadership and management, quality assurance, training, resources, information management, security, culture, and a review of all casework of multiple units since the agency’s creation nearly a decade ago, including firearms and fingerprints. It shows dangerous leadership failures within and above the agency, a dysfunctional culture, incompetence, and lack of internal controls and organization. It is difficult to express the gravity of the report’s findings and recommendations for the District’s criminal justice system – particularly on defendants, crime survivors and victims, and their loved ones. While it offers many clear, actionable recommendations that can be implemented quickly, many more are far-reaching, and there will be a very long road ahead.
“Most importantly, I am extremely concerned about the integrity of criminal cases that have relied and are relying on evidence from these units. Arrests, charges, and convictions are called into question, which will have significant impacts on defendants and victims. It will require a thorough review, the scope of which is difficult to appreciate in this moment – but it will be extensive. The Mayor is right to bring together an ad hoc committee to recommend an independent consultant and a review process, which I’ll be joining. If we wait, if we fail to appreciate the seriousness of these findings, or if we fail to invest the necessary resources and political will, we further compound this crisis.”