Houston's Police Chief Responds to Crime Lab Issues
Raised by State Legislators
January 24, 2005 -- The
following is Chief Harold L. Hurtt's official position concerning
the letter faxed to Mayor Bill White dated January 24, 2005, from
Senator John Whitmire, Senator Tommy Williams, and statements
made by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst regarding the HPD Crime
Lab. The senators strongly encourage that the City request assistance
from the Texas Rangers to oversee this review in our processing
of the 280 boxes of crime scene material.
After reading communications from the Senators
and Lieutenant Governor
Dewhurst, we understand they want us to employ an independent
the Department of Public Safety for Project 280 and explore the
regional crime labs. We welcome this offer of state assistance.
someone with credibility to work shoulder to shoulder with our
In furtherance of this recommendation, an oral request was made
Colonel Thomas A. Davis, Jr., Director, Texas Department of Public
provide an overseer from the Texas Department of Public Safety
duration of Project 280. A formal request will follow.
I raised the possibility of State assistance
in the early stages of this
project, and I suggested months ago that regional DNA labs be
managed by the State. I still believe regional DNA Labs to be
a good concept
subject to statewide regulatory authority; however, as a practical
recognize that the state DNA Lab currently has a six-month backlog
With our workload, our DNA processing demand could possibly create
backlog for Houston cases. Nevertheless, we will be happy to explore
of a fair funding process for a Regional DNA lab.
We want to regain the confidence of the senate,
community, and Criminal
Justice System. We have not remained stagnant regarding this issue.
approximately 75% complete with categorizing evidence associated
280. We are also well on the way to accreditation of our crime
lab, with the
exception of only the DNA section. We all can agree that we must
accurate and prompt investigations so that crime victims receive
we are working with the District Attorney's Office concerning
penalty cases that might be affected.
For additional information, please
contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.