Friday, April 27, 2007

Enough weapons missing from Houston PD property room for 21-gun salute

I'm aware of problems securing the evidence room at many small-town PDs, at county sheriffs, crime labs, and the occasional drug task force - but you'd think a big city department like Houston PD would have its systems down.

Apparently not. Reports the Houston Chronicle today, HPD was warned two years ago its property room was insecure and now 21 firearms have gone missing. At least two of the guns wound up back on the street, reported the paper:

Such flaws were manifested in the mistaken 2000 destruction of evidence from 33 criminal cases; the 2004 discovery of evidence from thousands of cases that had been jumbled in some 280 mislabeled boxes; and the 2005 discovery of 150 items from criminal cases, including three capital murders, that defense attorneys may not have known about at trial.

The latest problem, revealed on Wednesday, involves the disappearance of 21 guns from the property room, leading to the suspension of two supervisors.

Two of the guns were found on suspects stopped by officers in separate incidents, but police cannot account for the remaining 19.

HPD is a massive agency that also makes more arrests per capita than any other Texas police force. This is a case of simply being overwhelmed by volume and simultaneously underwhelmed with staffing and managerial competence. The solution inevitably lies in some combination of a reduction of the former and an increase in the latter. Simply throwing money at the current structure probably won't be enough.

Remember, this is one of the agencies the Legislature may give new authority to perform wiretapping! Maybe they should learn how to manage their evidence locker, first.


Anonymous said...

The problem is sad!!!!!

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, I don't know how this Post slipped by me back in 2007. It looks like only one person took time to comment so please allow me to join in the fray in 2010.

Is there any way to find out if Melanie (Mel) Vasquez or Vasques? Exhibit clerk was tied to the missing property? She's the person that replied claiming to have "personally destroyed" a Mystery Gun in my case by following Art. 2.21, further claiming that the Art. excluded the need to create, file, and maintain any Motions and or Orders. Thanks.