SFPD Dropping 30 Cases Daily Due to Drug Lab Scandal

Officers being trained to test

By Jessica Greene
|  Friday, Mar 19, 2010  |  Updated 6:45 AM PDT
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SFPD Dropping 30 Cases Daily Due to Drug Lab Scandal

A whopping 180 drug cases have been dropped since allegations surfaced last week that a longtime lab technician at the San Francisco Police Department's drug lab stole cocaine evidence, City prosecutors say.

A whopping 180 drug cases have been dropped since allegations surfaced last week that a longtime lab technician at the San Francisco Police Department's drug lab stole cocaine evidence, City prosecutors say.

The drug lab is now closed indefinitely. So officials are providing crash courses in basic testing of drugs to officers in the hopes that prosecutors will have sufficient evidence to file charges in new cases, a police spokesman said.

But about 30 suspects could be turned loose every day until the training is completed said Brian Buckelew, spokesman for District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Prosecutors are also facing a deadline Friday to have drug evidence ready in 35 cases. Buckelew says he is hopeful that the outside labs will be able to finish that work in time. But those outside labs are focusing on major cases that involve longtime criminals. Prosecutors have been dropping the lesser cases.

The troubles at the lab began March 9 when officials became aware of possible cocaine theft by criminalist Deborah Madden. Authorities are still investigating.

Madden has not been charged but was arrested on an unrelated domestic violence charge.

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