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Oakland Police Investigating Crime Lab Misconduct Claim

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An Oakland Police patrol car. (CBS)

An Oakland Police patrol car. (CBS)

OAKLAND (AP) -Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said Thursday that his department has launched an internal investigation into allegations against one of his crime lab employees, but said there has been no evidence so far of any misconduct.

Batts said he was making the announcement to ensure “transparency” with the public.

“I wanted to nip it in the bud,” before rumors spread, he said, adding, “I thought it was an opportune time to get this out. We have nothing to hide.”

Batts said the Police Department’s internal affairs unit received a tip from an anonymous caller on Sept. 22 who made an accusation against a crime lab technician. He said police quickly launched an investigation.

He did not name the employee or specify the allegation, and when asked if the employee was still on active duty, he said simply that crime lab operations are continuing.

“At this point in time…we have no reason to believe the accusations are true, or have validity,” Batts said.

Deputy Chief Jeffrey Israel said the Oakland Police Department’s crime lab has maintained its accreditation from the laboratory accreditation board of the American Society of Crime Lab Directors since 1983. The group is a nonprofit professional society of lab directors and forensic scientists.

The Police Department also conducted an internal audit of the drug testing portion of the lab this year, and found it in compliance in all areas, Israel said.

The San Francisco Police Department became embroiled in a major scandal involving its drug lab in March, when it was revealed that a former technician, Deborah Madden, had allegedly taken small quantities of cocaine from evidence during testing.

Though criminal charges have not yet been filed in connection with Madden’s alleged misconduct, the fiasco forced the closure of the lab and prosecutors have dismissed hundreds of drug cases.

Batts appeared to want to immediately head off any suggestion of similar problems in Oakland.

“One of the most crucial things to us is the public trust,” Batts said.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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