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Posts Tagged ‘crime lab’

More on the new Crime Lab boss

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

Construction of joint processing center and forensics facility approved to begin

Good. Several major building projects – including a state-of-the-art facility for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences and a voter-approved jail inmate processing center – officially are in the pipeline after Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved a $305 million capital improvement program. [...] At the top of the list is the $100 million city-county […]

HPD’s good, bad, and ugly

The good news is that the testing of backlogged rape kits has led to the identification of a serial rapist in Houston. Houston police on Tuesday for the first time identified a criminal suspect – a possible serial rapist – from testing of sexual assault kits that once gathered dust in the police property room. […]

HPD crime lab update

The man who wrote the report detailing all of the HPD crime lab’s problems was back to give a progress report on how things look now. Houston police managers at the once-shuttered crime lab have failed to re-examine tests on DNA, blood and most other forensic evidence on a random basis to ensure the results […]

Clearing the rape kit backlog is producing results

Very promising results. Private forensic laboratories hired to clear the Houston Police Department’s untested DNA evidence – including a decades-old rape kit backlog – have identified potential offenders in a third of the cases where sufficient DNA samples were found, according to a HPD report. [...] Since the HPD lab resumed operations about six years […]

Anthony Robinson named to crime lab LGC

Excellent choice. The latest appointment to the city’s crime lab oversight board brings a unique perspective to the post. Anthony Robinson spent 10 years in prison for a rape he did not commit before being exonerated by the kind of DNA testing the proposed new crime lab will perform. “I am very sensitive to the […]

What’s on the agenda for Mayor Parker in her third term

Now that Mayor Parker has been safely re-elected, with a better-than-expected margin, what does she plan to do from here? A triumphant Parker on Tuesday lauded her “decisive” victory but quickly shifted her focus to the coming two years, listing her third-term priorities as jobs, economic development, rebuilding streets and drainage, and financial accountability. “There […]

Rape kit backlog eliminated

More good news. For the first time in its history, the Houston Police Department doesn’t have a backlog of rape kits that haven’t been tested. The backlog, which at one point totalled 6,600 untested rape kits, was eliminated by sending the kits to outside labs, Chief Charles McClelland said. “There is no backlog regarding DNA […]

Meet the new Crime Lab boss

He sounds impressive. The fuzzy process of shifting the city of Houston’s crime lab from the Houston Police Department to an independent board got a little clearer Wednesday with the hiring of a president and CEO for the new operation. The appointed board of the city’s year-old forensic science corporation selected Dr. Daniel Garner after […]

It sure is nice to budget when you have money

Mayor Parker has released her FY2014 budget, and it’s great news for those of you that have been waiting for their single-stream recycling bin. More than 100,000 Houston homes will be added to the city’s single-stream recycling program by this fall, doubling the number of households receiving the 96-gallon green bins. About 35,000 homes will […]

Mayor Parker kicks off her campaign

It’s the time of the season for Mayor Parker, who has a serious challenger this time, but also a stronger hand to play. In her tenure, Parker has given teeth to the city’s historic preservation rules, broken a deadlock with Harris County to help build the Dynamo stadium, gave scandal-ridden Metro new leaders and revised […]

Where does the crime lab go from here?

Now that there’s a plan in place to clear the longstanding crime lab backlog, the question is what should we expect from the crime lab going forward? “It’s sort of hard to build a house when you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole,” said Scott Hochberg, chairman of the Houston Forensic Science Local […]

In praise of CODIS

We’re catching more crooks thanks to DNA. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but it’s always nice to have some numbers. The number of Texas crimes solved after a suspect’s DNA matched with offenders’ DNA samples stored in the national repository known as CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) recently passed the 10,000th mark. The state averaged […]

Former HPD lab supervisor files sues Lykos, county

Here’s a nice little going away present for District Attorney Pat Lykos. Two former Houston Police Department crime lab supervisors have filed a federal lawsuit against Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, saying the county’s top prosecutor retaliated against them after they spoke out about problems with HPD’s breath-alcohol testing vans. The lawsuit, filed Monday, […]

City-county cooperation

It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? At 9:27 p.m. on Election Day, when it was clear a Metro referendum crucial to both of their road-building budgets had passed, Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack’s phone buzzed with a text message from Houston Mayor Annise Parker: “Maybe we can tackle world peace next.” The note hinted at […]

Council approves Mayor’s crime lab plan

It’s a done deal. 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 […]

Meet your Crime Lab board

Mayor Parker has recommended nine people be appointed by Council to the governing board for the proposed Houston Forensic Science Local Government Corporation (LGC). “The people I have selected have varied backgrounds in science, law enforcement, public policy, business and defense of the accused,” said Mayor Parker.  “Their perspective will be invaluable as we proceed […]

The Mayor’s 2013 budget

What a difference a year – and better sales tax receipts and a better real estate market – makes. Mayor Parker has unveiled her budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and it promises no service cuts, no layoffs, and no tax increase. Last year, the city issued 764 pink slips and cut services as budget […]

Groundbreaking on the county’s new DNA forensics lab

Cool. Harris County officials on Tuesday broke ground on a new forensic genetics laboratory, to open later this year, which will let county scientists test DNA evidence in a growing number of cases. The 15,000-square-foot facility, on Holcombe in the Texas Medical Center, could be considered the little brother of a new Institute of Forensic […]

Bromwich on the Mayor’s crime lab proposal

Michael Bromwich, the author of the report that laid out all of the problems with HPD’s crime lab, expresses his approval of Mayor Parker’s proposal for an independent crime lab. Mayor Annise Parker and her administration have proposed removing the city of Houston’s crime lab from the Houston Police Department, where it has resided since […]

More details on the city’s crime lab plan

It’s starting to come into focus. An independent crime lab could cost nearly 20 percent more than the current police-run operation, a high-level Parker administration official told a City Council committee this week. Andy Icken, the mayor’s chief development officer, who is overseeing the project, said the annual budget of $22.8 million could rise to […]

Meet the Houston Regional Forensic Science Center

Mayor Parker has revealed her vision for an independent regional crime lab. Mayor Annise Parker proposed on Wednesday taking control of the city’s crime lab away from the police department and handing it to an independent seven-member board with expertise in forensic science and fiscal management. “I clearly prefer to have our forensics sciences not […]

County approves building new forensics lab

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 […]

More on the crime lab and the city jail

Here we have some more information about Mayor Parker’s plans for the crime lab, though it’s still not really clear where this is going. Parker wants to make the lab independent of HPD and the city, overseen instead by a local government board similar to the Port of Houston Authority, whose members are jointly appointed […]

Inauguration Day 2012

Tuesday was Inauguration Day for Mayor Annise Parker, City Controller Ronald Green, and all 16 members of Houston City Council. Annise D. Parker began her second term as mayor of Houston on Monday with a commitment to bring more jobs to the city and to tackle an ambitious to-do list that includes progress on public […]

Crime lab update

One way or another, Mayor Parker says we will have a new crime lab in 2012. After years of scandal, the police department will no longer run Houston’s crime lab, Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday. The promise is among the initiatives she will elaborate on next week during her inauguration speech. Parker was reelected in […]

The city and county would like to cooperate, but…

…it’s hard to do when there’s no money to do it with. City and county officials have not met for months to discuss a joint booking facility, long touted as a way to save taxpayers money. It would get the city out of the jail business and filter frequent fliers out of the incarceration pipeline […]

Harris County moves forward with new crime lab

Harris County is moving forward with plans to create what is being called a regional crime lab. At a meeting Tuesday, commissioners approved a plan that would lead the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences into becoming a regional crime lab. The long-term plan is for the institute, formerly the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, […]

Two forensic bills

Texas has thousands of untested rape kits in it, and a bill to try to make something happen with them. The bill, by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would require a police department to submit a rape kit to a crime lab within at least 10 days, and complete the DNA analysis no later than […]

The HPD crime lab backlog

I just have one question about this: Lengthy waits for Houston police to test evidence for DNA is an increasingly common problem in the Harris County judicial system, prosecutors say. The understaffed HPD crime lab currently has a backlog of 1,434 cases with newly collected forensic evidence that has not been tested, and prosecutors worry […]

Woodlands regional crime lab

I’m glad to see that there’s a new regional crime lab being opened up in Montgomery County to assist numerous law enforcement agencies in the area. But I’m especially pleased to see this tidbit in the story about it: Local law enforcement agencies that have had to wait six months or longer for forensic test […]

Only some kinds of mistakes were made

I probably shouldn’t be, but I was amused by this Chron story about the current state of the HPD fingerprint lab and the consultants who audited it. [HPD Assistant Chief Timothy] Oettmeier said consultants also had performed more in-depth technical audits of a random selection of 548 completed criminal cases. No misidentifications were found, he […]

The forensics backlog

I was going to blog about this Chron story regarding a backlog in fingerprint analyses for the HPD Crime Lab, but Grits said most of what I was going to say, so just go read him. The key, I think, is this: [W]hether the lab is independent or part of the police department, the problem […]

Search for the Chief

More speculation about who will replace Harold Hurtt as HPD chief. Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, and other officers said they’ve heard Timothy N. Oettmeier, 57, Vicki L. King, 48, and Kirk A. Munden, 49, all assistant chiefs, mentioned as possible candidates to replace Harold Hurtt, who announced his resignation on […]