Some deleted Pa. crime lab records ‘no longer accessible,’ State Police say

This story originally appeared on Spotlight PA.

A Pennsylvania State Police official has told law enforcement agencies that some crime lab records inadvertently deleted from a server by the Shapiro administration “will no longer be accessible.”

In a letter dated Jan. 22, Colette M. Smith, the head of the agency’s forensic and DNA labs, wrote that the affected evidence records were processed between June 15 of last year and the start of 2024.

“It is evident that some data will no longer be accessible,” wrote Smith of the Bureau of Forensic Services, which oversees six forensic labs and one DNA lab. “It will take time to identify all cases affected and to notify those who submitted each specific case.”

Affected records may include information about how evidence was handled once it reached the lab — known in law enforcement circles as the “chain of custody” — as well as communication logs and digital images, Smith said.

Thousands of records were deleted by the Pennsylvania Office of Administration during routine server maintenance on Jan. 3, the Shapiro administration was forced to reveal this week amid questions from reporters.

The office, which oversees information technology services at most state agencies, said “human error” led to the data mishap. The majority of data have been restored, spokesperson Dan Egan said Wednesday.

He added that “data reconstruction efforts are ongoing by [State Police]  to restore all remaining affected records as quickly as possible.”

  • January 25, 2024
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