St. Paul to hire new manager for police crime lab

St. Paul Police Department
The St. Paul crime lab is housed at the St. Paul Police Department in St. Paul, Minn. Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

The city of St. Paul is looking for a new manager to run the troubled St. Paul police crime lab.

The job opening, posted on the city's website, says applicants must have seven years of work experience in an accredited lab and be certified in either fingerprint or drug analysis.

The unaccredited St. Paul crime lab shut down drug testing last summer amid allegations of shoddy work and contaminated equipment. The closure threw thousands of drug cases into question. Police Chief Thomas Smith reassigned the head of the lab, Sgt. Shay Shackle, and hired independent consultants to review the lab's work. The police department plans to release a report soon that will describe the consultants' recommendations.

The job description says the new crime lab manager will provide "short and long-term planning strategies to Police Administration based on Forensic standards and best practices."

Chief Smith and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman have not said whether the lab will pursue accreditation, which would require it to create standard written procedures for drug testing. The accreditation process can take months or years. There are at least three government-run accredited crime labs in Minnesota, including the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office crime lab and two labs run by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul and Bemidji.

The criminal case that sparked the investigation into the lab remains unresolved. A Dakota County judge is expected to issue a ruling early this year on whether evidence held at the St. Paul crime lab could have been contaminated in a way that would make it impossible to reliably retest the evidence at another lab. Defense attorneys are waiting for the judge's ruling before they decide whether to appeal any previous drug convictions.

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