The Department of Public Safety is defending itself after recent audits turned up problems in eight of its Texas crime labs. Lubbock's lab is one of them according to an article in Monday's Houston Chronicle.
Despite numerous requests, officials from Lubbock's DPS crime lab would not submit to a full interview, but over the phone, they told NewsChannel 11 the audit findings are not effecting any of their lab results. They also said problems identified at Lubbock's lab are small, but because of them entire categories of the audit were tainted.
Texas DPS Headquarters in Austin refused a phone interview but sent a press release. The release states "The point of performing the audits is to find potential problems and to correct them. We would expect an audit to find things that we need to improve on and we use them as an opportunity to improve."
The audit's (from 1999 to 2002) revealed a lack of lab security, cross contamination of blood samples, and a lack of understanding when it comes to interpreting DNA test results. NewsChannel 11 is still trying to determine exactly which, if any, of those problems are present in Lubbock. The DPS press release only states "In Lubbock, the audit found that there were problems with seals in some DNA cases." The press release goes on to say no DNA cases were contaminated in Lubbock.
One of the reasons crime lab procedures are so important is this: DNA test results often send people to prison. Similar problems shut down the Houston Police Department's crime lab several months ago and millions of dollars is being spent re-testing DNA. The first test back revealed DNA could not link a man serving time for rape to that crime.