to charge the case.
The drug sample must be re-tested and weighed by one of the
regional crime labs covering for the out-of-commission San Francisco lab before the case proceeds . Still, as you might expect, some of the city's
public defenders are not impressed by the cops-turned-chemists plan.
"I think it's laughable," says public defender Rebecca Young, who
regularly represents accused drug dealers. "It's not tested by a
chemist, and there's no rigor to a curbside food-coloring test. Part of the reason you have a crime lab is it's
science. It's not police work."
Still, experts say there's nothing to worry about. Yes, Tomioka says the police drug testing is "completely new" for San Francisco. But it's
actually a pretty normal practice across the country. Ralph Keaton, the
executive director of the American Society of Crime Lab Directors Laboratory
Accreditation Board, says "It's not uncommon that police officers are
trained to do preliminary testing to see if there's a possibly a
controlled substance present." Keaton told SF Weekly he sees no problem with the plan.
Young obviously does. "So are they going to limit this to the police
officers who have taken chemistry in high school? What they're telling us
by doing that is there is no science in the testing of drugs."
C'mon! Anyone who watched Mr. Wizard knows you don't need a science degree to be a scientist! But we're starting to wonder about the purity of the baking soda in that volcano experiment...