Crime Lab / Elementary School

STATUS: Demolished (2017)

The former Stephen Foster Elementary School ceased to be used as a school in 1987 and was re-purposed as the City of Detroit Police Department Crime Lab. It was also home to the DPD’s Tactical Services Section, including special units like the Bomb Squad, SWAT, Sharpshooter unit, etc.

The infamous Detroit Police Department Crime Lab was shut down in 2008 after it was found routinely committing “serious errors” caused in part by “the deplorable conditions of the facility”. An audit, conducted by the State Police, uncovered serious errors in numerous cases and a 10% error rate was found in firearms analysis. The audit said sloppy work had probably resulted in wrongful convictions, and officials expect a wave of appeals in cases that the laboratory processed. Upon its closure, evidence from approximately 10,000 unprocessed rape kits were discovered in the lab, dating back nearly twenty years.

The auditors said that officers at the laboratory often cut corners and that in many instances “an assumption was made to the entirety of all items based on the analysis of only a few.” Technical reviews of the work were “almost nonexistent,” they wrote. Factors that contributed to the problems, they said, were a heavy workload, a lack of training and “the deplorable conditions of the facility.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that evidence, thousands of rounds of live ammunition, blood samples, sealed evidence kits and case files (some containing Social Security numbers of rape and assault victims) lay amid rubble in the abandoned crime lab that was open to trespass.

 

 

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