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Call for change in forensic handling

Nebraska residents who are arrested and charged with crimes deserve to know that their cases will be handled fairly and that their rights will be protected and respected. This can manifest itself in many ways, including how evidence is handled. From police at the scene of an arrest to employees at a crime lab, many people come into contact with criminal evidence.

Reports indicate that Douglas County has recently emerged from the shadows of some controversy surrounding contrived evidence for criminal cases. The county has recently spent a large sum of money to overhaul its crime lab facilities. That is recognized but further efforts are being requested for additional change. The Omaha Chief of Police is specifically asking for the lab in Douglas County to be combined in some fashion with the current lab in Omaha in order to address three main issues.

One issue is the current lack of impartiality that exists because the police both investigate cases and handle the forensics in cases. A second issue is the current lab's inability to perform all necessary services. Finally, there is no proper accreditation in place. A new lab could be put on a university campus to provide full impartiality with non-police employees, accreditation and the ability to perform the array of services needed by the police.

Defendants should always be aware of how their evidence is treated and working with an attorney can be helpful in making sure these rights are protected. Calling an attorney after an arrest may be wise in part for this purpose.

 

Source: WOWT News, “Omaha, Douglas look to combine crime labs,” John Chapman, June 1, 2016

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