Drug Dealers and Crackheads Go Free in San Francisco
First California is broke and has to release state prisoners to alleviate part of the costs sunk into housing their bad asses, now the SFPD drug lab has a cokehead problem and the City Attorney's office has to let a bunch of criminals go as a result.
What the San Francisco media will not tell you while they're getting outraged by this is that this happens every day at 850 Bryant. In 2003, the SF City Attorney's Office could boast a 52% felony conviction rate (compared to 83% for the entire state of California). By 2006, it was 66.6%.
It's not easy being on either side of the criminal line here in not-so-sunny San Francisco. I always blame the magnetic field (hello, have you ever tried to read SF Fed research?)
San Francisco drug dealers are waltzing out of court this week, all charges dropped after an embarrassing - and unprofessional - foul-up by law enforcement.
Months too late, prosecutors and police woke up to reports that a drug-lab technician was stealing and using cocaine seized by cops. Until the claims of tainted evidence are sorted out, drug cases will be withdrawn. That means 25 to 30 per day this week, no matter the size or severity.
The tale has generated plenty of finger-pointing and tail-covering. Communication, oversight procedures and management all broke down. A hurry-up fix is on the way to farm out drug testing to Alameda and San Mateo counties beginning next week, and many of the drug cases may be re-filed if no connection is found to the suspected drug tester.
KCBS tells us that what the "understaffed" SFPD crime lab really needs is another audit because the first one so adequately identified the issue (long after Deborah Madden's problem had directly and negatively affected her position at the SFPD):
Police Chief George Gascón says the AG will review the lab’s operations as well as help with retesting evidence. That’s in addition to an audit by state and national crime lab experts that is scheduled to begin within the next week.
All of this comes in response to allegations that former crime lab technician Deborah Madden stole cocaine evidence for personal use last year. She left the crime lab shortly after a December audit revealed that drug evidence was missing.
A 60 year old police lab technician is busted with guns and cocaine in her home. Seriously. You can't make it up.
More SF Gate:
Madden had been working as a criminalist for the city for 29 years and earned $122,000 last year in salary and overtime. She is free on $40,000 bail in San Mateo County, where she was arrested March 3 on weapons charges as a result of a search of her home.
San Francisco and San Mateo County officers searched her home last month and found a gun, which she is barred from having because of a domestic violence case, and a small amount of cocaine.