RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- As the role of Forensic Science in public safety grows in importance, so does the need to provide assurance for the public about the quality of forensic science work being done in their community.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division just achieved a higher level of professional credibility by earning a higher level of agency accreditation. The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB) presented their International Certificate of Accreditation to staff from the Sheriff’s Forensic Science Division during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Sheriff’s Office on Parr Boulevard.
“You have an excellent laboratory here in Washoe County,” ASCLD/LAB representative Ralph Keaton said when presenting the certificate at this morning’s ceremony. “This accreditation is an assurance to the users of your services that you have a system in place that ensures the quality of all your work.”
The Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division has received continuous accreditation through the ASCLD/LAB’s Legacy program since 1994. The Division felt that the external review required by the accreditation process helps to support the credibility of the lab’s work. Accreditation is also required in order for the Division to participate in the national DNA database and apply for federal grant funding.
Now, after twenty years, the Forensic Science Division has evolved to a higher, more intensive certification level by meeting the requirements of ASCLD/LAB’s ISO/IEC 17025 or “International” program.
“For the public, this means that our Forensic Science lab is being held to a higher standard than ever before,” Forensic Science Division Director Renee Romero said.
“The International program requires greater oversight and an increased commitment from staff,” Romero said. “In return, completing this program provides international recognition for the quality of forensic science services provided by our Division and greater assurance to the public about the high standards of our staff and our work.”
Romero said that all the Division’s testing procedures are examined as part of the process, including technical review procedures, organization and management. She said that staff members are required to complete an intensive training program and competency testing prior to beginning casework. Afterwards annual proficiency testing is required.
“Every aspect of the Division’s operation is scrutinized and every accreditation standard is considered essential,” she said.
Now that the Division has achieved this new, prestigious level of accreditation, Romero said they will be subject to annual on-site inspections to ensure that the required quality levels are maintained.
The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Division is a full-service forensic laboratory providing services to over 80 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in 13 Nevada counties. The Division provides investigative support with a full service crime scene unit and scientific disciplines such as Crime Scene, DNA, Toxicology, Controlled Substances, Firearms and Arson Analysis. The Evidence Section houses all of Washoe County evidence as well as Forensic Science Division Evidence. For more information, visit WashoeSheriff.com