Scandal Rocks Columbia Police Department’s Drug Lab
PROSECUTOR’S COMPLAINT LEADS TO SHUTDOWN OF FACILITY
S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Dan Johnson dropped a bombshell on South Carolina’s capital city late Friday, sending members of the S.C. Bar Association a memo outlining problems with the City of Columbia’s drug analysis laboratory.
That facility has been instructed to “cease operation” as of August 21, Johnson says.
According to Johnson’s memo – sent to attorneys after 7:00 p.m. on Friday evening – his office learned “that there may be issues with the quality of forensic drug chemistry cases prepared by Brenda Frazier,” an employee at the lab.
Johnson’s memo goes on to say that the lab was shut down by city of Columbia police chief William Holbrook on Thursday – and that his office will now “submit drug evidence to SLED for analysis.”
SLED is the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division – an agency of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s cabinet.
According to Johnson’s memo, Frazier “may not possess the knowledge necessary to competently perform drug analysis.” He adds that “the choice of proper sampling and/ or sample selection methods may not be familiar to or well understood by Brenda Frazier.”
Specifically, Johnson accuses Frazier of failing to maintain an acceptable storage temperature for the physical evidence in the lab.
“Temperature and lack of ventilation may result in degradation of physical evidence,” he writes.
Needless to say, this scandal is going to have a major impact on a great number of criminal cases.
“The Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office is currently in the process of conducting a case-by-case audit of all City of Columbia drug cases analyzed by Brenda Frazier in order to determine the best course of action to ensure fair and ethical prosecution and dispositions,” Johnson writes.
Obviously this website’s view on the criminalization of drugs – and government’s failed “War on Drugs’ – is well-known. We oppose both. However if Johnson’s allegations are true – and from the City’s response it appears as though they are – this is the latest in a long line of police incompetence in South Carolina’s capital city.
Either that or something super nefarious is going on behind the scenes …
Adding a layer of intrigue to Johnson’s bombshell? According to our sources, members of Columbia’s city council were never informed of the issues involving the drug lab – even though it appears city staffers first learned of the allegations in mid-June.