Parker to unveil plan to build independent crime lab

February 15, 2012 4:09:04 AM PST
Eyewitness News has learned that today, Houston Mayor Annise Parker will unveil a new plan meant to help solve crimes. The plan is centered around how evidence is processed in the city's crime lab.

The long history of problems with the crime lab began almost 10 years, and now the mayor wants to make serious changes.

The mayor plans to announce a new strategy to have an independent board oversee the city crime lab. The mayor's plan will not allow police or prosecutors to dictate which cases get evidence tested first, how fast or how thoroughly. The city has tried for two years to merge crime lab operations with Harris County.

Problems at the HPD lab date back to 2002. That year, the crime lab shut down after an audit revealed botched work, incompetent staff and destroyed evidence. The lab reopened in 2006.

In 2008, the DNA portion of the lab was shut down when it was revealed that technicians received unfair help on a proficiency test. Then in 2009, another audit uncovered mistakes in the fingerprint lab and 4,000 untested rape kits were found.

In August, the mayor and Houston City Council spoke about the possibility of having the city's crime lab run by an independent or regional agency.