Agenda Item   

AGENDA STAFF REPORT

 

                                                                                                                        ASR Control  19-000216

 

MEETING DATE:

04/09/19

legal entity taking action:

Board of Supervisors

board of supervisors district(s):

All Districts

SUBMITTING Agency/Department:

District Attorney and Sheriff-Coroner (Approved)

Department contact person(s):

Don Barnes (714) 647-1800 

 

 

Todd Spitzer (714) 347-8401

 

 

Subject:  Recommendation to Reorganize the OC Crime Lab Reporting Structure and Operations

 

      ceo CONCUR

County Counsel Review

Clerk of the Board

Concur

No Legal Objection

Discussion

 

 

3 Votes Board Majority

 

 

 

    Budgeted: Yes

Current Year Cost: N/A

Annual Cost: N/A

 

 

 

    Staffing Impact:

No

# of Positions:

Sole Source: No

    Current Fiscal Year Revenue: N/A

  Funding Source: N/A

County Audit in last 3 years: No

 

 

    Prior Board Action: 10/28/2008 #35

 

RECOMMENDED ACTION(S):

 

Approve reorganization of the Orange County Crime Lab reporting structure and operations to assign the Sheriff-Coroner sole oversight.

 

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Approval of the request to reorganize the Orange County Crime Lab reporting structure and operations to assign the Sheriff-Coroner sole oversight will allow the Orange County Crime Lab to serve the citizens of Orange County with more efficient decisions and independent results.

 

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

 

The Sheriff-Coroner and the District Attorney request change to the reporting and operational structure of the Orange County Crime Lab (OC Crime Lab) commensurate with national forensic recommendations, and one that will serve Orange County citizens with more efficient decisions and independent results.

 

The Sheriff-Coroner and the District Attorney request operation and administration of the OC Crime Lab be vested exclusively under the Sheriff-Coroner.  Currently, the OC Crime Lab reports jointly to the Sheriff-Coroner, District Attorney and County Executive Office.  Directly serving investigative agencies is the most ethical and operationally efficient position for the OC Crime Lab, as opposed to also reporting to prosecutorial and county executives.  Though the OC Crime Lab provides forensic services for all county law enforcement entities, the Sheriff-Coroner is the most appropriate for official oversight of budgeting, staffing, investigative processes and operational decisions, especially among police chiefs and the Sheriff-Coroner collaborative public safety efforts.  The national perspective (crime lab directors, private defense bar, law school professors, Organization of Scientific Area Committees, National Institute of Forensic Science, International Organization for Standardization, etc.) is strongly against prosecutorial oversight of laboratories.  See Attachment A - National Research Council Committee Report starting on page 183 at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/228091.pdf.

 

The number of stakeholders and legal clients of the OC Crime Lab's work products, coupled with the national dialog about prosecutorial influence on forensic results, necessitates this organizational change.  On October 28, 2008, the Board approved a recommendation from a Stakeholders Panel Report to establish joint supervision of the OC Crime Lab.  At this meeting, several members of the community spoke before the Board recommending against District Attorney oversight, including academics and past lab directors.  In addition, the District Attorney views the operation and administration of the OC Crime Lab as more appropriate under the sole direction and supervision of the Sheriff-Coroner.

 

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT:

 

N/A

 

 

STAFFING IMPACT:

 

N/A

 

 

ATTACHMENT(S):

 

Attachment A - National Research Council Committee Report