The Forensic Services Division of the Tuscaloosa Police Department is celebrating a recent accreditation that marks it as one of the best labs in the Southeast.

Stephanie Taylor, a TPD spokesperson, told local media Tuesday that their forensics team was granted the honor by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation late last month.

The team was created in 2021 to allow Tuscaloosa Police to perform as many forensic services as possible in-house and stop outsourcing critical police work to teams in other parts of the state or region.

(Tuscaloosa Police Department)
(Tuscaloosa Police Department)

“Sending evidence off-site could delay an investigation weeks or even months. We created this unit so we could quickly identify and arrest violent offenders before they re-offend,” Blankley said. “This unit has proven to be a tremendous asset to our investigative capabilities, and achieving accreditation is a testament to the commitment and expertise of our team."

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This accreditation is a testament to how quickly the team has found its footing - it labels TPD's team as one of the best and increases confidence that the findings of their lab are impartial and meet the highest standards.

“Accreditation is an added layer of accountability to say that we’re doing things according to proven, best practices the way agencies do things across the world,” said Forensic Services Division director Mitch Rector in a release.

Taylor said TPD is the only first-responding agency in Alabama to achieve international accreditation and one of just 15 such agencies in a broad, 11-state Southeastern region. Retaining the accreditation will require the Tuscaloosa lab to be inspected every two years.

“The accreditation represents nearly three years of work by the Forensics Division,” said Blankley said. “This achievement represents our commitment to employing the most current and up-to-date policing methods to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.”

Taylor said some federal grants for police require them to have an accredited forensics lab, so this honor may also translate to free money for the department.

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