The head of the Houston police crime lab’s DNA division knows her staff will be closely watched as they begin analyzing evidence more than three years after the scandal-plagued section was shut down, says the Houston Chronicle. The DNA lab was certified last month and evidence testing began July 3. Manager Vanessa Nelson said five analysts are working on about 15 criminal cases while five more employees continue training. Private companies began testing all DNA cases after a 2002 audit revealed glaring problems in the DNA section, including poorly trained workers and lax protocols, that led to the office’s closure.
Crime lab director Irma Rios said it will take “time, hard work and doing the job right,” before public confidence is restored. “It’s going to take a long, long time,” she said. “We’ve had to change our game plan, so to speak.” Nelson said the lab, essentially rebuilt from the ground up, is state-of-the-art and comparable with facilities used in the private sector and by other big-city police departments.