DHTML Tree Menu skip to content




contentHouston Police Department > News Releases

HPD Response to Second Report by Independent Investigator

June 1, 2005 -- Recognizing the importance that evidence plays in the determination of guilt or innocence, the Houston Police Department is taking affirmative steps in response to recent information released by the Independent Investigator for the HPD Crime Laboratory and Property Room, Michael R. Bromwich, as it relates to the crime lab and the issue of "drylabbing." Executive Assistant Chief Martha Montalvo, who oversees management in the crime lab, said Mr. Bromwich's report brought to light issues that tended to cast a cloud of uncertainty over evidence processing in the past by one current employee, Vipul H. Patel, and one previous employee, James E. Price.

EAC Montalvo said that in June of 2000, the department reviewed all 574 cases processed by Price as part of an internal investigation but, for reasons unknown, the same was not done relative to Patel. The two cases of evidence mishandling involving Patel occurred in 1999. In order to ensure the integrity of the crime lab, the Houston Police Department has relieved Patel of any evidence analysis duties until a similar review can be conducted on the cases he handled between 1999 and 2003 when quality control measures were incorporated into the lab. This move is precautionary and the police department has no reason to believe Patel is guilty of any wrongdoing now or since his discipline for the prior conduct identified by Mr. Bromwich. The review will look to see if proper processing and analyses were conducted in accordance with established procedures. Details of the review are being worked out.

Chief Hurtt stated, "This input from the independent investigator is just what we expected when the investigator was hired: honest findings identifying and revealing past problems, and providing recommendations for corrective action."

It is important to remember that the Houston Police Department detected and corrected these deficiencies when they occurred and continues to cooperate fully with Mr. Bromwich in his investigation of all issues associated with the crime lab. We are pleased with his acknowledgment of that cooperation and agree that his most current findings regarding "drylabbing" appear to be isolated, and not at all representative of the work of the controlled substances section or the crime lab as a whole. "Our goal is to make the Houston Police Department crime lab the best in the nation and our transparency, accreditation, and cooperation are important steps in that direction," said Chief Hurtt. Should further findings be made by Mr. Bromwich, the Houston Police Department will move to take all appropriate corrective measures. Chief Hurtt and the current administration are committed to restoring and maintaining the public's trust in all areas of the Houston Police Department.

DWR 6-1-05

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.