FOX 13 investigation shines new light on bad drug tests

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder sat down with Fox 13 to explain a recent field trip by local leader: "Myself, Judge Pomponio, State Attorney Mark Ober, Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacor and Public Defender Julie Holt.”

All these Tampa Bay leaders went on a very important field trip. "Whether its additional funding for FDLE or whether it’s our own crime lab this is something that needs to happen now, " said Judge Holder.

Judge Holder says the goal was to figure out why our state crime lab is so backlogged.

 “We have men and women sitting in jail languishing if they cannot make bond awaiting that scientific testing that should be performed immediately," said Holder.  

But it's not -- often it takes months.

Back in February we told you about a military officer falsely arrested on the results of a field drug test.

It showed the pill in his pocket was meth.

But it turns out the nark 2, got it wrong. It took FDLE nearly five months to clear his name, turning his life upside down.

"Injustice pretty much sums it up perfectly," Judge Holder says that should have never happened. "We can’t turn our law enforcement officers into scientists there not scientists there law enforcement officers, Holder added, and to submit the sample and if turns blue it’s this if it turns purple it’s this that’s just unacceptable especially if there is no evidence to support its reliability and no testing to support its reliability."

In fact, our 6-month investigation has shown repeatedly, how unreliable these tests are.

We even went inside a forensics research lab where top researchers tested the kits.

We watched as aspirin, cough medicine, coffee and spices like oregano and, even  air tested positive for illegal drugs.

These are the same kits used by law enforcement all over the country to make drug arrests.

Judge holder says he’s appalled. "We're dealing with the fundamental rights of men and women we're incarcerating them and there just has to be a better way, " he explained.

Holder says FDLE just doesn't have enough  lab techs to handle the load of confirmatory drug testing.

But that could change he says public defender Julie Holt and State Attorney Mark Ober are joining forces to fix the problem.

"Ms. Holt and Mr. Ober have committed their resources with their respective organizations to push for additional funding to allow more timely testing of these substances,” Holder added. “Your viewers sit out there well it won’t affect me or it won’t affect my family members but if it affects any human being then it affects us all."

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