Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office ends property room audit

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Pct. 4 concludes property room audit, Kaitlin McCulley reports. (KTRK)

The evidence room at the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office has passed an independent audit, according to Constable Mark Herman.

Property and Evidence Consultant Kolene Dean spent the last two weeks inspecting the evidence room to look for any problems in how it is organized.

"I can tell you that during this time, Ms. Dean went through every piece of property," Constable Herman said. "She will be mailing me a list of recommendations of things that we here at Pct. 4 can do better."

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Constable Herman said he has not received that list yet. However, based on his conversations with Dean, he will replace the locks on the property room door, store guns on the ground instead of on elevated shelves and store large amounts of cash in a bank account.

Corporal Chris Hess, the employee who was fired for allegedly destroying thousands of pieces of evidence in pending cases, has not been charged with a crime. His case could go before a grand jury next year.

"He put a lot of turmoil and hurt on our organization," Herman said. "And again, I always said, it was either intentional, negligently, or accidental. We don't know."

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Herman said he has changed the evidence destruction policies to ensure an employee does not destroy evidence before it is needed in trial.

"Before we destroy any evidence whatsoever, we put mechanisms in place where the district attorney's office will sign off with us, the county attorney and several people within our organization," Constable Herman said.

Defense attorney Paul Morgan represented a man whose case was dismissed in August after drug evidence was destroyed. He said the constable's office still has to prove they can properly handle evidence.

"So they've been doing their job since August," Morgan said. "That's good. This was just such an outlandish fiasco. We'll have to see what happens."

Morgan submitted a public information request related to the destruction of evidence and according to a letter from the attorney general's office, "we conclude the constable's office has not demonstrated the submitted information, which relates to administrative records and an internal administrative investigation, is related to any pending criminal investigation or prosecution."

Constable Herman said there is an ongoing criminal investigation. A spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney's office said the new DA will have to handle the issue once she takes office in January.

"I think the real question that is still outstanding: did one of these officers commit the felony offense of tampering with evidence?" Morgan asked.
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