City Council has appointed a nine-member board to oversee the city’s crime lab, the first step in yanking it from police department control and setting up a publicly funded non-profit corporation to do evidence testing.
The vote was 15-2.
Though Council members supported the mayor’s proposal to try to insulate the crime lab from pressure from police, prosecutors and politicians, some raised questions about the city’s plan to go it alone when the county is about to build its own forensics tower.
“There’s so many areas the city and county can save taxpayers money, and this is one of them,” said Councilman Jack Christie, who voted no. Councilwoman Helena Brown, the other no vote, called the plan “a political stunt” that wastes taxpayer money by failing to cooperate with the county.
See here and here for some background. The concern about going solo instead of joining forces with Harris County is a legitimate one, even when expressed in typically Brownian fashion. As Mayor Parker noted in her press release, nothing about this precludes future expansion of the LGC to accommodate Harris County’s participation, and talks with the county are still going on. There is a difference of vision here, however, so that eventual cooperation could take a long time. I don’t think it would have made sense to continue on with the HPD lab as is and defer dealing with those 6,600 untested rape kits until everyone got onto the same page. I say it’s better to move forward now and work through the disagreements along the way. This is a big step and a long overdue one. Hair Balls has more.