Two Houston Police Department evidence supervisors were suspended after an audit revealed 21 guns were missing from the property room, the Houston Chronicle reports. Two of the guns surfaced in the hands of two suspects stopped by police in separate incidents – one in a traffic stop and another in a narcotics case. It is the latest in a string of problems that have plagued the police property room for as many as 25 years, during which structural problems exposed evidence to rainwater and rats, while poor record keeping resulted in the destruction of evidence.
The police department stores more than 18,000 guns in its property room. Some are held as evidence in pending trials or investigations. Authorities track inventory through a bar-code system initiated in August 2005. Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said he trusts Police Chief Harold Hurtt that none of the missing guns involved pending cases. “The problem with the Houston Police Department and with the Department of Public Safety is they have to hire employees out of the human race. You are going to get some good ones, and you get some bad ones,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t know of any way a person can be screened to be sure they are not going to be a criminal.”