Investigation Finds Local Arizona PD Crime Scene Unit Lacked Training, Mishandeled Evidence

An internal investigation of the Tempe, Arizona police department found that crime scene technicians relied on expired chemical and broken equipment for at least four years, lacked adequate training, and allegedly so badly mishandled evidence that officers “dreaded having to testify about it before a jury, Sam Kmack and Elena Santa Cruz report for AZCentral.

The investigation also found that little was done when Tempe Police Department superiors were alerted to to the issue. After the team supervisor left in December 2021 as a result of the report, no changes were made until after a permanent replacement took the position in January 2023. The team in July was suspended from collecting evidence from scenes of murders and other major crimes a month after a new police chief arrived. Tempe has contracted Mesa crime scene specialists to do the work in the meantime, and Tempe police have reviewed about 400 old cases dating back three years. The department said it’s found no case where evidence collection compromised a case. The internal investigation revealed widespread problems going back as far as 2015.

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