EXCLUSIVE: Go behind the scenes of Houston's digital forensic crime lab

Friday, February 3, 2017
EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes of a forensic crime evidence center
Go behind the scenes at a forensic lab that could hold the answers to thousands of crimes across Houston.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- One room could hold the answers to thousands of crimes across Houston. For years, the city has been plagued with backlogs for evidence testing. Now, the Forensic Science Center says it is getting caught up with all the cases.

What lies in the facility could link people to crimes and ultimately throw them behind bars.

"These are real people on all sides," CEO Peter Stout said.

ABC13 got a special look inside Houston's Forensic Science Center, which was spearheaded as a result of the enormous backlog at HPD's crime lab. This center focuses on digital evidence.

Facing serious struggles in forensic science -- and waiting crime victims -- the center added employees to scour over evidence and catch up. Two years ago, there was a 110-day wait to process cell phones and computers. Now, that number dropped to 16 to 24 days.

Ryan Johnson, the manager of digital evidence, walked ABC13 through another room with a Faraday box, which is used to process mobile devices.

"That protects that phone from any signal getting to it while in the process of extracting information from it," Johnson said.

High-tech gadgets are getting more sophisticated every day, and the challenge in decoding them also increases.

"The challenge is being able to get in that mobile device with devices that are coming out because they are coming out at a rapid rate," Johnson said.