The director of the state crime lab in Massachusetts has been appointed to lead the Connecticut state crime lab, which is trying to rebuild its reputation after briefly losing its professional accreditation over problems including a huge case backlog.
The selection of Guy Vallaro as director of the state Forensic Science Laboratory in Meriden was announced on Nov. 19.
"A decade of neglect led to the unwelcome news last year that the state crime lab's accreditation had been withdrawn,'' Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. ''Dr. Vallaro is the perfect leader to restore our lab to what it once was: the envy of the nation.''
Vallaro currently directs the state forensic laboratory for Massachusetts, which is separate from the Massachusetts Department of Health lab where a chemist is accused of faking drug test results. Vallaro will begin his job in Connecticut in late December.
The Connecticut lab gained national prominence under the direction of famed scientist Henry Lee, but Justice Department audits last year raised questions about its supervision, evidence control, data security, quality assurance and DNA test validation techniques. Earlier this year, the Connecticut crime lab won back its accreditation and regained access to national DNA databanks run by the FBI.
Vallaro, who is credited with streamlining operations in Massachusetts, said his first priority in Connecticut will be to reduce case backlogs.
Under a new law, the state crime lab operates independently of state police. Vallaro will report to the commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection.
Vallaro was chosen by a search committee that included Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane, Karen Goodrow, director of the Connecticut Innocence Project, and Nora Dannehy, the deputy state attorney general and a former federal prosecutor. "We looked at very good group of applicants and he was the best,'' Kane told the Hartford Courant. "He's a respected scientist, but, more importantly, he's a proven manager and a priority and policy setter.''