Houston Police Fingerprint Lab Deteriorates, Needs Big Repairs


In the Houston Police Department’s fingerprint lab, counter tops rot, leaky chemicals spill out of their packaging, and some equipment doesn’t work, the Houston Chronicle reports. Four years after police became aware of troubles at the facility that processes fingerprint evidence, and months after its problems first came to public light, parts of the lab remain in disarray, internal police documents show.

The documents obtained through an open records request provide a glance into how commanders allowed the problems at the lab to fester over the past decade. In the last 10 years, communication broke down between supervisors and ground-level employees. Meanwhile, command staff failed to give employees adequate training, didn’t keep pace with technological advances, and allowed the lab to physically deteriorate. The lab fell under public scrutinylast year following revelations that workers were making technical errors when analyzing prints. Since then, consultants have largely taken over the analysis portion of the lab. The City Council will consider a request from police today to allocate $2.3 million, in addition to the already-spent $2.9 million, to give a consulting firm more time to fix the lab.

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