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The largest conglomerate of state defense attorneys in New York is calling on the City Council and the Mayor’s office to audit all tools used in the NYPD’s police lab after a coding error that went unnoticed for nearly five years at the facility was revealed earlier this week.
Terri Rosenblatt, the supervising attorney of the New York Legal Aid Society’s DNA unit, said in a statement that they are looking closely at the error, which was revealed in court documents by prosecutors and first reported by The Post.
The coding error affected printouts at the controlled substance analysis section of the lab — but did not affect the accuracy of drug testing, according to the NYPD and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office.
“Suffice to say, we are not taking NYPD’s word for this, and neither should the City of New York,” Rosenblatt told the Post in an email.
“This disclosure follows a pattern of other issues with software used by law enforcement in New York, whether it be a security breach in fingerprint analysis, or in programs used to analyze DNA,” she added.
Rosenblatt continued that a transparent review of the materials at the lab should be conducted by local elected officials.
“The City Council and the Mayor’s office should independently and transparently audit all tools used by the City’s crime lab immediately to accurately and truthfully determine the extent they may be in fact harming our clients and their communities,” she wrote.
The coding error at the lab in Jamaica, Queens, caused incorrect values to be placed in the data field of a control group on printouts generated during drug testing, according to a memo and a letter by NYPD officials.
The NYPD, state and federal prosecutors have all insisted the error — which went unnoticed from 2016 to 2021 — did not affect the accuracy of the drug tests.
A number of preventative measures were in place to ensure the testing accuracy, they wrote in the documents filed publicly in a Brooklyn federal court case.
Further, the correct values were mapped accurately on graphs included in the printouts — and the coding error only caused the number in the data field to be erroneously repeated from an earlier control test, the officials wrote.
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