What a waste from duplicated resources if they go this route! A regional lab operated jointly with the county would make far more sense, but the big barrier is the city and county politicians cannot work together on a personal level. Councilman C.O. Bradford, a former Houston police chief, expressed that sentiment: "It would be a sad day if we were to go and renovate some existing facility or acquire a new facility and the county were to continue building a new facility," he told the Chron. "To the extent that we can save public tax dollars and not duplicate equipment and not duplicate a facility, I think we will have scored a perfect score."
But that ship appears to have sailed and Mayor Parker now says a concrete proposal for a separate, independent lab may come before the council as soon as next month. She even suggested that one of the Innocence Project groups have a representative on the crime lab board (in the interest of full disclosure, your correspondent works for the Innocence Project of Texas), but this immediately turned the discussion to suggestions that would dramatically politicize the new entity.
District K Councilman Larry Green called for a place on the board for community groups such as the NAACP or the League of United Latin American Citizens.
District E Councilman Mike Sullivan said suggestions to have defense bar or civil rights representatives on the board "all sound like what I'll term, and I mean this with all due respect, kind of politically correct perspectives and points of view. I think that we need to be sure to have some representation by law enforcement, pro-victims' rights groups, Parents of Murdered Children, groups like that."This are TERRIBLE suggestions, all the way around. If you're going to create an independent board, scientists, not political appointees, should run the lab, based on the interests of science and not the NAACP, victim's rights groups, etc.. For God's sake don't turn the friggin' crime lab into just another opportunity to feud over the culture wars! I could see designating one slot for a prosecutor and one for the defense bar - so that those with professional interest in the crime lab's functioning would have an avenue to express concerns. But most of the board should be chosen for their scientific chops and independence from the system. It would be a catastrophe if the board packed with a cadre of culture warriors.
To her credit, Mayor Parker said, "I clearly prefer to have our forensics sciences not under the influence of police, prosecution or politics," but designating spots on the board for special interest groups would run contrary to that goal.