The Institute of Forensic Sciences is getting a new home.
Commissioners Court on Tuesday gave staff the go-ahead to finalize a land deal with the Texas Medical Center that would give the county 2.79 acres at the northeast corner of Old Spanish Trail and Bertner.
The deal would require construction to begin on the new nine-story Institute of Forensic Sciences facility within two years; Art Storey, the county’s director of public infrastructure, said he plans to start in December 2013.
“Harris County is running out of its own capacity,” said District Attorney Pat Lykos. who urged the court to move forward. “It’s absolutely essential to the administration of justice that Commissioners Court did what they did today,” the district attorney declared.
The county’s new facility will handle autopsies and evidence testing. A separate county facility for DNA testing is expected to open elsewhere in the Medical Center, at 2450 Holcombe, this year.
See here for some background. This has been referred to as a “regional” crime lab, but so far the county and the city are not yet on the same page; in recent weeks, Mayor Parker has spoken about the possibility of going a different direction than the county. This story doesn’t shed any new light on that.
County officials on Tuesday said they hope the city eventually will join them, though all stressed the county lab must expand to meet growing demand, regardless of the city’s plan.
“There’s been this discussion of yet another regional crime lab, and we already have the capability of doing that,” County Judge Ed Emmett said.
“As Mayor Parker stated in her inaugural address, her goal is to create an independent crime lab that can handle all of the city’s forensic needs,” said Parker spokeswoman Jessica Michan. “We’ll continue our dialogue with Harris County to, hopefully, achieve that goal together.”
There are common interests, but as yet not a common vision. Maybe by the time this thing is built we’ll have it all figured out.