December 9, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Houston Forensic Science Center has reinstated to full duty the director of its Crime
Scene Unit. The move came after the City of Houston’s Office of Inspector General (OIG)
found no fault with the director, who had been accused of sexually harassing a Crime
Scene Investigator (CSI) on the scene and arriving there intoxicated.
“We have full confidence in the director of our Crime Scene Unit, whose experience and
knowledge benefit HFSC and the citizens of Houston,” said Dr. Peter Stout, HFSC’s COO
and vice president.
“However, this incident has provided us an opportunity to review our policies to ensure
they guarantee the safety and security of our staff, the community and the investigations
in which we participate,” Stout said.
The OIG opened its investigation in July after an allegation that the director of the unit
had violated HFSC’s Workplace and Discrimination Policy by placing gloves in the pocket
of a CSI at the scene of an investigation. The OIG ruled the allegation unfounded, noting
the CSI admitted the director had not touched her inappropriately and that she had not
been offended by his action.
At the same investigation, another staff member alleged the director smelled like alcohol.
However, no other witness could support that allegation, and one person said they
smelled only hand sanitizer. Another witness from the scene said the director looked fine,
did not stumble or slur his words and appeared to be “fine to drive.” As such, the OIG
could not sustain the allegation.
However, the OIG has made three recommendations, which HFSC plans to adopt.
1) Amend the Drug Free Workplace Policy to clarify a timeframe between alcohol
consumption and returning to work duty.
2) Draft a policy that would bar CSIs from bringing “tagalongs” to crime scenes. In
this case, the person who accompanied the director is an HFSC staff member and a
former crime scene investigator. However, he is not currently an HFSC crime scene
investigator.
3) Consider a staffing model that provides a backup for any position that must attend
specific events, such as officer-involved shooting scenes.
HFSC is currently reviewing and amending its policies.
HFSC is a local government corporation that provides forensic services to the City of
Houston and other local agencies. HFSC is overseen by a Board of Directors appointed by
the Mayor of Houston and confirmed by the Houston City Council. Its management
structure is designed to be responsive to a 2009 recommendation by the National
Academy of Sciences that called for crime laboratories to be independent of law
enforcement and prosecutorial branches of government.
HFSC operates in eight forensic disciplines.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
Ramit Plushnick-Masti
Director of Communications/PIO
media@houstonforensicscience.org
http://www.houstonforensicscience.org/
713-929-6768 (office)
713-703-4898 (cell)
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