Humble Police Department’s new facility features 21st century technology Bad guys, beware! The Humble Police Department is ready, willing and extremely able to track down criminal suspects thanks, to its new forensic lab, which has been in operation since December. Located in the free-standing building at 305 Bender Ave. that once housed Harris County Constable Precinct 4 offices, the lab includes a separate room for the storage of flammable materials, acids and chemicals used to process evidence; a photo room with digital camera, two spotlights and a forensic light source; a spacious work area; a property room with fire-proof vault, which is supervised by Officer T.J. Hastings; and the office of lab supervisor Detective Domingo Villarreal. One of two new pieces of equipment in the lab is an evidence drying cabinet. “The main purpose of the drying cabinet is to dry anything with blood or body fluids on it,” Villarreal said. “It’s also good for drying narcotics. For example, marijuana plants have to be dried before they’re packaged.” Also new is a super glue chamber. “All the non-porous evidence, such as glass or plastic, anything that’s not paper, gets processed through this chamber,” said Villarreal. “We apply a few drops of super glue to a dish and place it on a heating pad. The super glue goes through a process of sublimation, which transforms it from liquid to gas. Once it goes into the gas state, the fumes adhere to the fingerprints on the glass or plastic. We can then make a lift and apply it onto a fingerprint card for comparison or to enter into the AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) database.” Porous items are treated chemically in another cabinet. In Villarreal’s office, a large flat screen allows him to view magnified fingerprints to aide in comparisons for identification and for training purposes. “The ability to zoom in and truly see the arrangement of pores on a fingerprint is unique,” he said. “We got the latest technology we could get. It’s such a clean image when it’s displayed on the screen.” Villarreal joined the Humble Police Department in 1991 and began training specifically for forensic work in 1994. He has spent a total of 13 weeks training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., and has had extensive training in forensic photography, fingerprint identification and crime scene reconstruction. He has trained police officers from other agencies around the country and has traveled to Bogota, Columbia, to supervise training under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice. He is chairperson of the crime scene certification board of the International Association for Identification and is one of approximately 20 people in Texas who have attained the association’s certification. The investigation into the murder of volunteer firefighter Steven Jackson, dubbed the "good Samaritan" case, which occurred on Dec. 4 and was resolved in 15 days, was one of the first cases Villarreal worked in the new forensic lab. “That was also my first whodunit case in 16 years,” he acknowledged. “The way everything worked out on that case was so crucial. All the different disciplines came together, and the different applications of disciplines, whether it was surveillance or fingerprints, ballistics, composite art, the photo line-up.” Keith Hines was arrested in Jackson’s murder and will stand trial later this year. “I told (Chief Gary Warman) we put Humble on the map,” Villarreal said of the forensic lab and the work being done there, not only for the Humble Police Department, but also for other agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service, Harris County Precinct 4, the Harris County Fire Marshal, and Liberty and Montgomery Counties. “I’m so honored to have this lab,” he added. “It allows me to use all the tools and all the training I’ve had. I’m exactly where I want to be. My heart is in the lab.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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