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More on the new Crime Lab boss

Meet Dr. Daniel Garner, the CEO and president of the Houston Forensic Science Center.

Dr. Daniel Garner

Daniel Garner was ready to drift quietly into retirement after decades on the forefront in the field of forensic science.

The last part of his career had the 66-year-old on the go, traveling to foreign countries for the U.S. Department of Justice, helping to revamp struggling crime labs, sometimes in nations enduring political and economic hardships. Just on the short list, Garner helped build a crime lab in Kosovo from scratch, trained more than 1,000 forensic experts in Colombia in how to properly present evidence in court and helped make improvements in the Sri Lankan forensic laboratory that gained it an international accreditation.

While the work was rewarding, it was also hectic. Often he traveled in armed security details, had to undergo vaccinations and dealt with foreign authorities who searched his hotel room, suspicious of his visit to their country.

So when he gave his notice in 2012, he was ready to go.

He and his wife left Washington, D.C., for a small town on the outer banks of North Carolina. The couple started shopping for a home, preferably one near the river that would be perfect for a small pier. Garner imagined relaxing on the deck of his bobbing sailboat and taking in the local galleries during the town’s art walks.

Then, just months into his retirement, Garner was lured back to work as director of the Houston Forensic Science Center, the reincarnation of the once-beleaguered Houston Police Department crime lab.

The new lab is based on a concept that seems simple, but is revolutionary in the field: the lab will operate independently of law enforcement. If the model succeeds, Garner said, it could be a blueprint for crime labs across the country, letting labs operate with greater independence and away from the shadow of law enforcement influence.

“I know there are a lot of people watching Houston to see how this works,” he said. “It’s an extremely unique model and I wanted to be apart of it.”

Dr. Garner was hired a year ago to direct the HFSC, but as far as I know this is the first real story about his experience and background. He’s got an impressive resume, that’s for sure. I have a lot of hope for this project, so it’s good to know it’s in good hands.

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