In November 2016, Police Chief Hank Stawinski ordered a review on the Prince George’s County police lab after receiving information an employee had accredited work at the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab that was forced to shut down in June.
Individuals familiar with the investigation identified the employee as Lynnett Redhead, a national accreditor in lab audits. Redhead was suspended within a day of the probe launch and is currently on paid administrative leave, according to her attorney, James Ellison. Redhead has overseen the operation of the lab since 2007.
The ongoing review found delays in notifying investigators of DNA profile matches, disregarded DNA profiles that were not entered into a national database and outdated methods were utilized to calculate the individuality of profiles.
According to Stawinki, the delays did not appear to have affected any convictions or prosecutions. The main administrative problems found during the investigation have so far affected 19 out of 4,200 cases. Unprocessed evidence was found in the course of the inquiry, which may benefit homicide cases dating back to 2005 and generate new DNA profiles.
While the employee was serving as auditor for the American Society Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, she gave the Austin lab passing marks. It was later discovered by a state accrediting body for Texas that the lab was utilizing outdated scientific and statistical methods to analyze DNA, lacked proper training and had contaminated evidence.
After outside inspections, the lab is still in operation.