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New Mexico Public Safety Forensic Laboratory Secures Coveted International Endorsement

on March 30, 2019 - 1:05pm
SANTA FE The New Mexico Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Forensic Laboratory system has been acknowledged for its technical competence and accredited in the disciplines of biology (DNA-nuclear and body fluid identification), drug chemistry, firearms, toolmarks and serial number restorations, latent print processing, comparisons and impression evidence (footwear and tires) by the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).
“The accreditation process provides an essential, external, independent review of forensic services DPS provides. We are proud that all three of our laboratories have attained this esteemed level of certification,” said Mark R. Shea, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety. “The citizens of New Mexico, law enforcement and the judicial system can be confident in the scientific reliability and professional work product of the DPS laboratory system.”
“All three DPS forensic labs, located in Santa Fe, Hobbs and Las Cruces, submitted to independent technical evaluation in September 2018,” said Katharina Babcock, DPS Forensic Laboratory Bureau Chief. “The assessment inspected all aspects of the facility’s operations related to consistently producing accurate and dependable data.”
The evaluation criteria come from the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) standards called ISO/IEC 17025, which are used for evaluating laboratories throughout the world. Laboratory accreditation bodies use standardized protocols to assess the laboratory’s technical competence, including the: technical competence of staff; validity and appropriateness of test methods; traceability of measurements and calibrations to national standards; suitability, calibration and maintenance of test equipment; testing environment; sampling, handling and transportation of test items; and quality assurance of test and calibration data.
Laboratory accreditation is highly regarded, nationally and internationally, as a reliable indicator of technical competence, said Shea. The certification provides benchmarks the laboratory personnel utilize to confirm they are performing their work correctly and to appropriate standards. The accreditations are valid through September 2020.
In addition, the Santa Fe Forensic Laboratory’s DNA Section has maintained certification through the FBI since 1993, which requires successful completion of an external FBI quality assurance standards (QAS) audit every two years.
The DPS Forensic Lab serves more than 200 New Mexico law enforcement agencies, conducting biology, chemistry, firearms, fingerprint, and other testing on all kinds of criminal cases.