City of Austin releases report on what contributed to ‘significant’ quality issues in the APD DNA lab

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Austin Police Department APD DNA Lab - Blood Sample_298743

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, the City of Austin released a report indicating the Austin Police Department DNA lab did not follow up-to-date scientific protocols — resulting in what it calls, “significant quality issues.”

In the report, called “Looking Back to Move Forward,” the City of Austin reviews what factors led up to the lapses in these issues, which it says happened even though there were multiple internal and external quality audits between 2010 and 2015.

All-in-all, 57 contributing factors were found and the report proposes 87 recommendations for improvement.

Contributing factors include:

  • Supervising inadequacies
  • Poor understanding of guidelines
  • Improper and inconsistent ways of addressing deviations from protocol
  • The overall structure of the DNA laboratory
  • Use of equipment or supplies that are not supported by manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Severe organizational weaknesses that emerged during the technical leader’s sick leave

The technical leader’s sick leave — and 2014 replacement by a new leader — is one factor that the report reviews in detail. According to the report, “while his management and technical background appeared impressive, he may have been unprepared in some regards for the APD DNA Laboratory and its specific needs.”

The report also indicates that while previous complaints were filed, these were not investigated properly and did not address issues that would contribute to further lapses in quality control.

Recommendations for improvement include changes to the structure of the DNA laboratory, the creation of two panels of external advisors, and the technical leader being required to actively and regularly engage with a Quality and Safety Manager whose role exists outside of the leader’s reporting line.

To read the full report, click here.

KXAN has reached out to APD for a comment.

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