Forensic science: a survey of crime laboratories in the state of Texas




Quarles, Chester L.

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Sam Houston State University


Purpose: The objectives of this study were: (1) to develop expository data and statistics on the "state of the arts" of criminalistics in the State of Texas and (2) to determine the levels of education and training of criminal investigators in the State of Texas. Methods: The methods used in this study were: (1) library research, (2) a questionnaire sent to each state crime laboratory in the United States and to each major laboratory facility in the State of Texas, (3) a questionnaire sent to Chiefs of Police in every municipality with a population base of ten thousand people or more and to every Sheriff in the State of Texas, and (5) personal interviews with laboratory directors and police investigators. Findings: The findings of this study are:

  1. Narcotics, alcohol intoxication analysis and latent print examinations were the highest categories of crime laboratory caseloads in the state laboratories as well as Texas facilities.
  2. Texas laboratory staffs range the highest in Dallas with fifty-six employees to the Fort Worth Crime Laboratory with three employees.
  3. Educational credentials for Texas criminalistic administrators range from an M.D. (Dallas), three Master’s degrees (Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio), to the bacca laureate degree (Texas Department of Public Safety Laboratory at Austin).
  4. No Sheriff’s Department respondent acknowledged college credit in criminal investigation coursework of the 12 per cent of all Texas Sheriff's Departments responding.
  5. Of the sixty Texas police departments in munici palities of ten thousand or more population only twenty-four individuals reported college credit in criminal investigative work.
  6. Forty-five respondents indicated specialized crimi nal investigative training within their own departments, the Military Police, or state schools provided for this purpose.
  7. Only twenty-seven of all police or sheriff’s de partment respondents indicated any crime scene training within the last year.
  8. Of the reported 1402 cases investigated by thirty five officers, 28 per cent were referred to a crime laboratory.
  9. The respondents indicated that they could not have solved 9.5 per cent of their cases last year without laboratory aid.
  10. Of those respondents answering the question referring to reasons for not using the crime laboratory, the answers of: (a) "no need to develop physical evidence," (b) "very few criminal cases in my jurisdiction," (d) "distance of laboratory from jurisdiction," and (d) "the length of time the laboratory takes in analysis prior to answers from those cases," were reflected by the officers answering the questionnaire.



Crime laboratories, Crime, Texas, Criminal Justice, Cases