San Francisco police Chief George Gascon today announced a personnel overhaul of the department’s crime lab that he said would facilitate the ongoing investigation into the lab’s practices.
In a prepared statement this morning, Gascon said the changes were not punitive but intended to enhance the transparency of the investigation. Both the commanding officer of the crime lab and the lab manager are being temporarily reassigned to other duties.
Gascon last week ordered drug testing at the lab temporarily halted after revelations that a former civilian lab supervisor, Deborah Madden, may have taken small quantities of cocaine from evidence jars. Madden has not been charged, but an investigation is ongoing.
Drug testing has been outsourced to other crime labs pending the results of an internal police investigation into lab policies and practices, and an external audit led by the forensic services divisions of the state Department of Justice and the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office.
Gascon said today that crime lab commanding officer Capt. John Goldberg would move to the department’s training division, and crime lab manager James Mudge would be assigned to a project relating to the department’s automated fingerprint identification system.
Assistant Chief Jeff Godown will take overall responsibility for the investigation into the lab’s practices, Gascon said.
The changes are expected to last three to six months, according to Gascon.
Police spokeswoman Lt. Lyn Tomioka reiterated this morning that the changes were “absolutely non-punitive.”
Replacing Goldberg will be Ingleside Station Capt. David Lazar, who will be assisted by Lt. Douglas McEachern, neither of whom have worked at the lab, according to Tomioka.
“Changes are being made so the perception for everybody–the public, department members–is that this is a fair and impartial investigation, and will be done in a timely manner,” Tomioka said. “But the chief wants to identify all of the problems, and do one very thorough investigation that can identify everything.”