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HPD Response to Third Report Issued by Independent Investigator

June 30, 2005 -- Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt and managers in the Crime Laboratory and Property Room have reviewed the most recent report released by the Independent Investigator for the Crime Lab and Property Room Michael Bromwich and welcome any recommendations from the investigator in areas of concern.

"We are committed - and will continue to be committed - in my administration to making things right," said Chief Hurtt. "Issues raised by Mr. Bromwich regarding evidence handling in our property room are being addressed and design plans are already in motion to build a state-of-the-art property room the police department and citizens of Houston deserve," the chief said.

The independent investigator pointed to two major areas of concern at the property room at 1103 Goliad. One is a lack of adequate storage space and the other a lack of temperature control and humidity to properly store biological evidence. For the past eight months, HPD officials have been in discussions with city officials to secure a site for the building of a new property room. The new building would be housed at 1200 Washington, the site of the old Police Garage, which is slated to be demolished. In terms of proper temperature control for evidence, the property room is scheduled to take delivery of a new 8-x 24-foot freezer in coming weeks.

Questions were also raised in the third report about the work of a former lab employee, Baldev Sharma, who worked in the lab from 1989 through his retirement this past February. We will be speaking with the independent investigator to determine the scope of a possible review of cases Sharma worked.

Chief Hurtt was not surprised to learn of the continued cooperation current lab employees are extending to the independent investigator. "I am proud of our lab employees who have worked very hard to gain accreditation in all areas of the lab," said Chief Hurtt. "And I am confident that Irma Rios and her staff are committed to making this the best crime lab in the country."

JFC/DW/IR 6-30-05

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