Narcotics testing issues
Members, it has come to my attention that Narcotics evidence that is tagged to be tested is not being tested and many of our cases are being tossed out by the court for “no Probable Cause” because of no testing. The back up currently on a rush test is at 6-8 weeks, with many cases going untested. The HFSC has refused to test some narcotics because they claim that no request for testing has been made.
Apparently, officers must go into the LIMS system and request that narcotics be tested. I am asking that all officers check your cases in which narcotics were recovered. Just because you recover them and tag them to be tested does not mean that they will be tested. In fact, nothing will be tested unless it is “requested”. To prevent our officers from being a scapegoat it is imperative that we request testing of all narcotics that are being recovered.
Due to the Morton Act, narcotics can not be destroyed until tested. This is causing a large back log on the 25th floor at Travis. Anyone who has been above the 22nd floor of Travis knows the smell. I have looked over the Circular from 2019 which states, that if you do not work in an investigative division, you do not need to make a request to the lab for forensic analysis of evidence. A follow-up circular in 2021 states that “if you were able to articulate sufficient factors to provide probable cause and charges have been accepted then the Harris County District Attorneys office will request that the narcotics are tested by the HFSC.”
Part of the problem with this process is that if a suspect pleads guilty prior to a request for testing, then the request from the DA’s office will not be submitted. I believe that we have many people who have pled guilty and received punishment and the evidence still not tested, which can cause issues due to the Morton Case.
Published May 17, 2023
Author Doug Griffith, HPOU President