Investigation Into Crime Lab Proficiency Test

October 5, 2007 - Questions regarding a recent proficiency test in the Crime Laboratory have prompted an Internal Affairs Division investigation into how the test was administered to a group of employees.

Criminalists in the Crime Lab’s Biology Section were given a proficiency test in August 2007. It is the policy of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors / Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB), and the HPD Crime Lab, that analysts are not allowed to openly discuss the results or findings of the test until everyone has completed it. An allegation has been made that several employees openly discussed the test and further alleged that a manager advised employees as to what they should be looking for and explained how to identify specific body fluids. The allegations were reported to HPD management who in turn notified the Internal Affairs Division, formalizing an investigation.

The investigation is still ongoing and no relieved-of-duty status has been initiated against anyone at this time. One of the employees making the allegations turned in a letter of resignation to HPD supervisors today (Oct. 5).

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said ASCLD-LAB, the Harris County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Forensic Science Commission were notified about the matter. “It is important to note that the proficiency test in question was retrieved and never submitted for review. A new proficiency test was ordered and is in the process of being completed by analysts who took the initial test,” Chief Hurtt said. “We have been told by ASCLD-LAB that the actions we have taken are appropriate and that this incident will not impact the accreditation we worked so hard to achieve.”

The Harris County DA’s office is preparing a letter to be sent to defense counselors and defendants who might have questions as to pending cases involving body fluid identification work done by HPD analysts.

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