Houston To Create Independent Crime Lab

Houston officials are poised to create an independent crime lab separate from the Houston Police Department. Later this morning Houston councilmembers will vote to create a local government corporation to oversee the Houston Forensic Science Center.

 

Creating an independent crime lab was one of Houston Mayor Annise Parker's campaign pledges.

Authorizing a Local Government Corporation, or LGC, is the first official step in the process of pulling forensics out from
under the Houston Police Department and into an independent entity.

Parker says the transition away from HPD should be complete by the end of the year.

"We will be offering a timeline of the necessary legal steps that they need to take to move toward full independence. We will still have a relationship with the LGC because they will be funded by the City of Houston, this is not an effort to cheap out in any way. We need to continue to fund these services."

The mayor says she's earmarked an additional $5 million in her budget for the new Houston Forensic Science Center. The money could be used to attack the backlog of items that need to be analyzed.

But Parker says for now crime lab services aren't moving out of their current facilities.

"The current crime lab, which is one piece of the forensic science center, is severely overcrowded and needs a new home. The other forensic services are scattered throughout Houston Police Department facilities. So we anticipate that they will over time begin to look at a consolidation. We're starting with governance and then the actual physical housing of those various services."

Parker says one option would be for the city's lab to co-locate or merge with Harris County forensics, if the county has any
interest in joining the LGC.

The mayor has appointed nine people to the board of directors. Those appointments require confirmation by city council.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...