TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the executive law, in relation to extending access to criminal
PURPOSE: To permit the Nassau County Medical
Examiner's office, when
acting within the scope of its law enforcement duties, to access
information contained in the Division of Criminal Justice Services'
databases, including but not limited to criminal records, personal
appearance data, fingerprints, photographs, and handwriting samples.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill adds
the Nassau County
Medical Examiner's Office, when acting within the scope of its law
enforcement duties, to the definition of "qualified agencies" under
§835, subsection 9 of Executive Law.
Section 2 of the bill provides for an immediate effective date.
EXISTING LAW: Executive Law §835, subsection 9
currently contains the
list of all agencies qualified for purposes of Article 35 of the
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
JUSTIFICATION: In the past decade, the expansion,
advancement, and use
of forensic science has become critically important to all law
enforcement agencies and to public safety in New York State. In 1994,
New York State created the New York State Commission on Forensic
Science to ensure consistency and integrity in forensic sciences.
Article 49-B of the Executive Law provides that the Commission shall
develop minimum standards and a program of accreditation for all
forensic laboratories in NYS, including establishing minimum
qualification for forensic laboratory directors and such other
personnel as the Commission may determine to be necessary and
appropriate of forensic laboratories for the performance of specific
forensic methodologies. The minimum standards and program of
accreditation shall be designed to accomplish the following objectives:
1. Increase and maintain the effectiveness, efficiency, reliability,
and accuracy of forensic laboratories;
2. Ensure that forensic analyses are performed in accordance with the
highest scientific standards practicable; and
3. Promote increased cooperation and coordination among forensic
laboratories and other agencies in the criminal justice system.
It is important to note that Executive Law §835 was drafted and passed
when forensic services, particularly latent print comparisons, were
exclusively performed by police agencies. However, the ability of the
Nassau County Forensic Evidence Bureau, which is part of the police
department, was recently called into question. Thus, all lab work,
including latents, is going to be transferred to a new lab under the
jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner's Office. The Nassau County
Medical Examiner's Office is in the process of seeking provisional
accreditation from the NYS Commission on Forensic Science in order to
be able to conduct latent print analysis in the laboratory.
Currently, the Medical Examiner's Office is unable to access the SABIS
system in order to conduct latent print comparisons since it is not
included within the definition of a "qualified agency" under
Executive Law §835(9). The exclusion of the Medical Examiner's Office
from this definition results in its inability to access databases
maintained by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, including
criminal records, personal appearance data, fingerprints,
photographs, and handwriting samples.
By specifically including the Nassau County Medical Examiner's Office,
when acting with the scope of its law enforcement duties, in the
definition of "qualified agencies", the Office would have access to
additional information that would enable it to assist law enforcement
agencies in the administration of justice in Nassau County.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.