Council committee holds a lovefest for Crime Lab director

KHOU-11's Jeremy Desel reports on the grilling HPD Crime Lab director Irma Rios didn't receive yesterday before City Council's Public Safety Committee:

However, five months after the DNA section of the lab was shut down and its manager resigned in another scandal, the city council members who sit on the committee did not have any tough questions to ask of Rios.

“As you can see, there is some good news. We have some real accomplishments to report,” committee chairwoman Melissa Noriega said at the start of the meeting.

The praise did not stop there.

“I want to thank you very much Ms. Rios for all your hard work and leadership,” said committee member Anne Clutterbuck.

No questions about the proficiency testing scandal that closed the lab down. There were questions about a recent trip to England by lab personnel who were on a “fact finding mission,” on the use of private crime labs.

“Are there many privatized crime labs in America also?” councilman M.J. Khan asked Rios.

The answer is yes. As a matter of fact, that is exactly where the city of Houston has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars as it sends out all DNA testing while the HPD lab has been closed.

No questions about that though.

So, 11 News asked Noriega why no questions about the scandal.

“That is a very, very legitimate point. I don't disagree with you at all,” she said.

Then why didn't councilmembers do their homework so they could ask her tough questions? Why even make a pretense of questioning Rios if nothing substantive was going to come of it? It's not hard to "Google," and certainly local media have had more than a couple of stories on crime lab problems over the past several years.

This past February, Jeremy Desel sat down with Rios and was not afraid to ask her pointed questions. His interview revealed that the lab was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside testing -- still.

But that was of no concern to councilmembers. Did Mayor White not want any tough questions asked? Is D.A. candidate Clarence Bradford trying to ride out any mention of "crime lab scandal" during this election season, since investigations have condemned his leadership?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 06/24/08 05:14 AM | Print |

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