Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New crime lab director at DPS

Pat Johnson has retired from his post managing the Texas Department of Public Safety's network of crime labs after 42 years of service, it was announced at a Forensic Science Commission meeting earlier this month. He has been replaced by Brady Mills, an internal hire, who was named the new Deputy Assistant Director at DPS in charge of the agency's crime labs.

I don't believe I've ever met anybody who had an unkind word to say about Pat. Even when his crime labs screwed up, and no doubt it happened on his watch, he handled it in forthright and confidence-building ways, disclosing problems and letting the chips fall where they may. In my experience, he was unafraid to face tough questions head on, despite a soft-spoken demeanor that masked the burdens of an extraordinarily difficult job.

He'll be missed; we could use more like him. Enjoy your retirement, Pat.

Brady Mills, an acolyte of Johnson's, seems like a good choice to replace him. In my limited dealings with him he seemed professional and highly competent, and he'll need to be. He takes over the crime labs at a time when they're still managing the aftermath of the Jonathan Salvador fiasco and struggling with long delays on core functions due to backlogs, massive caseload growth, and underfunding from the Legislature.

Perhaps Brady's most difficult task in the near term will be to articulate the agency's budget needs in the wake of these building pressures. The Lege has expanded crime lab budgets and physical plants significantly in recent years, but not fast enough to keep up with elevated caseload growth. DPS crime labs have already begun de-prioritizing certain types of cases to reduce the volume. IMO, something's got to give soon.

That's not a knock on management, at least at Johnson and Mills' level. It's a function of a bloated criminal justice system and a political process that enjoys touting its tuff-on-crime positions right up until the moment the bill comes due. Crime lab work isn't sexy but the system would grind to a halt without it.

Good luck, Brady. You'll need it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brady was an excellent choice. Very high in ethics. Good guy