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9/11 FF group calls for halt to WTC resifting

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:43 am    Post subject: 9/11 FF group calls for halt to WTC resifting
From Mar 30, 2013 to Apr 03, 2013 (included)
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Press Release
March 30, 2013
contact: Chief Jim Riches, FDNY(ret.) 917-692-1199
Sally Regenhard 646-266-1987

Statement of 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims
Re: April 1 WTC re sifting program.

Group calls for:
- Postponement of 9/11 re sifting program - Comprehensive investigation of all OCME mishandling of DNA cases - Review of past WTC re sifting projects -
- Placement of an Inspector General in OCME office -

9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims asks: How can we be certain that the same practices that allowed over 50 DNA samples to be mishandled as well as DNA evidence in 26 rape cases to go undetected- at the New York City OCME - will not likewise taint the DNA investigation process of our heroes and loved ones of 9/11 as well?

We fear that a long standing culture of mistakes, mishaps and lack of oversight in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has jeopardized not only the day-to-day operations of criminal DNA cases but the 9/11 WTC human remains cases as well. All further searching for DNA evidence in the re sifting of 9/11 debris should be immediately halted until a comprehensive outside investigation of OCME has been conducted. Despite numerous media reports and a scathing February 15th NY City Council Health Committee hearing where DNA experts condemned DNA mishandling in the OCME, as of this date there is no evidence that any investigation has begun.
It is a matter of public record that 1,100 victims - an astounding 40% of all WTC victims - uniformed and civilian - remain unidentified to this day. And 9,000 human remains under the Medical Examiner's control for over a decade and are still unidentified - Why?
As a result of the DNA scandal which emerged this past January at the OCME, the deputy director of quality assurance in the DNA lab has been fired, and the director of the department of forensic biology has been suspended. This should be clear evidence that an independent, outside investigation is sorely needed. It is clear that adequate procedures and protocols were not in place to prevent both human error and/or improprieties. The public has entrusted the OCME with the management of the most sensitive information that a human being owns - their DNA.

It is with this justified concern that we demand:

1. The State of New York must immediately assume interim operation and control of the OCME & provide long term oversight in order to restore public confidence in this Office.( On March 23, 2013 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims sent an official request to the NYS Inspector General's office to facilitate a " Coverdell Investigation" of the NYC OCME under the provisions of the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act of 2000). We await a response.

2. A thorough investigation of OCME procedures, protocols, personnel and staffing must be undertaken by a qualified panel of national professionals from outside the City of New York. This must involve both DNA and non-DNA issues such as lack of quality assurance and oversight processes, lack of transparency, accountability & responsibility plus an examination of past improprieties & criminal behavior of employees which has been a matter of public record during the past decade..( see attached list of articles, below.) **

3. Since the city, state and federal governments have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the OCME for WTC human remains identifications ( including one of the largest DNA labs in the country) with very little to show for it, an independent auditor should be permanently stationed at the OCME to monitor ALL WTC work, and to produce an annual report. .We have serious reservations regarding the remaining leadership of this agency and we are additionally calling for an independent investigator to look into how DNA samples from the previous three WTC sifting operations have been handled, and to retest all of the WTC DNA samples if warranted.

4 As such, we also demand that until a full inquiry and investigation has been conducted , there should be an immediate suspension of the planned WTC sifting for human remains scheduled to begin operation April 1, 2013. At this time, we are not confident in the OCME's ability to extract and identify DNA samples that may be found during the sifting process. If the OCME cannot properly manage their normal day to day operations regarding their own DNA caseload - whether it be rape kits or other DNA evidence - then, how can we be confident that they can properly manage the enormous job of identifying human remains of 9/11 victims?

Accountability, responsibility, transparency, professionalism, and integrity in the OCME is the least that all crime victims, members of the public, and families of the victims deserve for themselves and for their loved ones.

List of articles chronicling failures and criminal acts within the NYC OCME - 2006 - 2013.

1) OCME Chief Forensic Dentist Drilled On Drug Charges, Perjury - 11/17/2006
2) Manhattan: Chief Forensic Dentist arrested - 11/17/2006
3) E=Files on 9/11 Stolen City Coroner's Laptop 5/3/2007
4) Medical Examiner Backs 9/11-File Fumbler - 5/13/2007
5 ) 9/11 Dentist Sentenced in Drug Case 1/23/2008 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20080123/attacks-dentist/

6) Sept 11 "Chapel Arsonist" Gives Up 11/01/2009

7) Ex Medical Examiner Big Fesses Up to $13M Theft - 10/31/2007
8) OCME Employee pleads guilty to theft of federal 9/11 funds - 10/30/2007
9) Mortuary Technicians Play With Corpses - 2/15/2010
10) Ruling Sought on Suit Over 9/11 DNA Software - 10/29/10
12) Harvard Law Grad, Pleads Guilty In 9/11 Remains Tent Fire -12/22/1016) Medical Examiner keeps thousands of brains for 'tests' families call needless
13) Morgue workers sent to seize body of 9/11 policeman - 3/31/2011
17) http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/city_sitting_on_brains_cTMsOuGmPkRRDxBQm0IvNJ -10/28/2012
18)1 fired, 1 suspended at NY medical examiner office, 1/31/13
19) More DNA Problems Found in New York City Crime Lab - NYTimes.com, 1/2/13
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