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Forensic Science Division Receives Accreditation for Laboratory Analyses, Crime Scene Response

Piecing together a crime can come down to a single drop of blood. Maybe a fingerprint pulled from a car door or a bullet fragment traced back to what was once, literally, a smoking gun. The scientific work needed to connect those dots is done daily at Michigan State Police (MSP) forensic laboratories across the state. 

In November 2020, MSP's laboratories were put to the test as part of an assessment for accreditation renewal through the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). For the first time ever, the accreditation assessment was conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The MSP Forensic Science Division (FSD) received its certificate of accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 in early March 2021. 

"This was a unique experience and a huge undertaking for our division and the assessors," said Maj. Beth A. Clark, Field Support Bureau and former FSD commander. "We've been accredited, in some form, since 1984 and the process has always been in-person. Our members really outdid themselves and proved once again that our laboratory work is trustworthy and reliable."

The full assessment is done every four years with additional surveillance assessment activities conducted annually.  The assessors, who are subject matter experts specially trained in accreditation standards, are independent from the MSP.  They evaluate a laboratory's conformance to hundreds of standards in areas such as examiner education, training, quality management, traceability and security, among other areas.  Assessors conduct their work through records reviews, direct observation and case analysis reviews.

"It's important for our customers, both our law enforcement partners and the residents of Michigan, to have confidence in us. Accreditation is an excellent gauge of quality," said Jeff Nye, director of the MSP FSD. "ANAB looked at all of our standards and disciplines in all seven laboratory locations. We worked with nearly 35 assessors to measure our conformance to international standards."

As part of the process this time around, the FSD also sought and received accreditation in a new forensic discipline - crime scene investigation. The MSP is now the first organization in the state to receive that distinction, which validates efforts made to increase efficiency and standardize procedures. 

"Our employees deserve all the credit for this," said Guy Nutter, Crime Scene Technical Leader, Northville Laboratory. "Crime scene response team members are laboratory scientists first. That's their 'day job.' Responding to a crime scene is something extra they take on to further themselves and, in turn, strengthen their work. Our department is lucky to have these dedicated employees." 

The MSP operates seven regional forensic laboratories that provide forensic services to law enforcement agencies and fire investigation units statewide. MSP scientists have expertise in 11 forensic specialties and analyze a wide range of physical evidence in criminal investigations. For more information, visit the Forensic Science Division online