Houston Police Department Scandal

The Houston Police Department has a history of problems.  In 2003, the entire laboratory staff was found to be severely deficient in the training and requisite knowledge to work in a DNA lab.   They are again subject to another probe concerning their laboratory work.


After a decade of such scrutiny, the Houston Police Department is experiencing a renewed interest in its testing practices.  So much so, that thousands of cases from the Houston Police Department in the last 25 years may have to be retested.  Fast-forward to the end of May 2011, Amanda Culbertson and another lab supervisor at the Houston Police Department have resigned, citing her mounting problems with choosing a paycheck over her own morality.

Culbertson has said that despite multiple complaints about the current state of BAT vans ran by the HPD.  BAT vans are mobile breathalyzer units that analyze samples in the field as opposed to taking them back to the station.  There have been mechanical, electrical and temperature issues that were not dealt with accordingly and, as such, tampered with test results.

Overheating in the van supposedly affects the gauges. It also may alter the control sample used to calibrate the breath-test machine. She said an electrical glitch in each of the six vans meant the sophisticated $6,000 machines would reset every time the van’s air conditioner came on, which also cast doubts on accuracy.

At the end of July 2011, the Houston Police Department issued the following statement: “At this time, HPD is not aware of any tests being compromised due to temperatures within the BAT vans. We were alerted to past air conditioning problems within the BAT vans and have worked to correct the issue by installing rear air conditioning units in the vans. Additionally, all officers operating the BAT vans have been trained on the proper procedures to allow for air conditioners to work properly. Vans not kept at the proper temperature settings do not cause the instruments to give false readings. Instead, the instruments would not give a reading at all, thus preventing any invalid tests.



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