WHEREAS, in the course of and following an audit of the practices and procedures of the Nassau County Police Department Forensic Evidence Bureau (Forensic Evidence Bureau), errors in analysis of evidence were uncovered and issues were raised as to whether personnel in such facility had prior knowledge of and reported such errors; and
WHEREAS, such errors as alleged, if committed, could seriously imperil the rights of the innocent, compromise public safety, and undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system; and
WHEREAS, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Office of Forensic Services (the Office) and the Commission on Forensic Science (the Commission) have oversight of public forensic laboratories including the Forensic Evidence Bureau; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 3797k (4) (the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program) and agreements entered into pursuant thereto, the New York State Inspector General (the Inspector General) is empowered to investigate allegations of serious negligence and misconduct substantially affecting the integrity of the forensic results in the Forensic Evidence Bureau, which receives funds pursuant to such program, and the Inspector General has been so investigating such allegations; and
WHEREAS, the Forensic Evidence Bureau receives funding from New York State, among other sources, for its operations; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to Article 4-A of the Executive Law, the Inspector General has jurisdiction to investigate and review the operation of the Commission and the Office and their oversight of public forensic laboratories such as the Forensic Evidence Bureau; and
WHEREAS, the exercise of my powers under the law will allow for a more comprehensive and independent investigation of the oversight and operation of the Forensic Evidence Bureau;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws, do hereby order as follows:
1. Pursuant to section six of the Executive Law, I hereby appoint Ellen Biben, the New York State Inspector General, to study, examine, investigate, review and make recommendations with respect to the forensic testing practices and procedures of the Nassau County Police Department Forensic Evidence Bureau including, but not limited to, compliance with relevant laws, standards, and protocols.
2. The New York State Inspector General is hereby empowered to subpoena and enforce the attendance of witnesses; to administer oaths or affirmations and examine witnesses under oath; to require the production of any books, records or papers deemed relevant or material to any investigation, examination or review; and to perform any other functions that are necessary or appropriate to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of office, and I hereby give and grant to her all powers and authorities which may be given or granted to persons appointed by me for such purpose under authority of section six of the Executive Law. She may exercise any such powers in cooperation with any other body or government agency. This order shall not in any way limit her powers or responsibilities to inquire into these or any other matters as New York State Inspector General.
3. Every State department, agency, office, division, board, bureau, council, authority and public benefit corporation shall cooperate with the New York State Inspector General and shall furnish such information and assistance as she determines is reasonably necessary to fulfill her duties.
G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the
State in the City of Albany this twenty- fifth day of February
in the year two thousand eleven.
BY THE GOVERNOR
Secretary to the Governor