Can San Francisco Narcotics Cops Play 'Mr. Wizard?'

With San Francisco crime lab tech Deborah Madden accused of going Scarface with the lab's coke stash, the police now are going to try their hand at Mr. Wizard.

Backing up: Since the crime lab's narcotics unit has gone dark pending an investigation, the district attorney has had to dismiss more than 100 drug cases because there was no lab worker to certify that yes, that rock is crack, not a lump of candle wax.

But things are a' changin: police spokesperson Lieutenant Lyn Tomioka says that narcotics and gang task force officers were trained this week in a drug test method that seems just a bit like an eighth-grade science experiment: The officer plunks the sample into a vial filled with a liquid that will then change color indicating if the sample is, indeed, an illegal substance or not (remember to wear those goggles!). That would be sufficient evidence for the district attorney

to charge the case.

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