County police downplay troubles at crime lab

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Roof leaks and air pressure issues in the new St. Louis County Police Crime Lab are the latest chapter in a continuing controversy within the county government.

The two month old facility was built in renovated space on the third and fourth floors of the police headquarters building at 7900 Forsyth in Clayton.  Water leaks, the failure of one of four new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units, and a bad pipe fitting have been blamed for the troubles.

Water damage last weekend destroyed some ceiling tiles and warped some floor tiles in the firearms testing lab.  Variations in air pressure have produced windy areas as well.

A St. Louis Post Dispatch story Tuesday called the winds 'hurricane-like' gales.  That prompted the spokesman for the county`s Public Works Department, David Wrone to label the language 'hyperbole' and to say his department believes it was 'politically motivated.'

Wrone said, 'The police department has not contacted us about any of these alleged 'tropical winds.'  But Criminal Investigations Commander Chuck Boschert told FOX2 the police department discussed all the problem issues with staff from the Public Works Department and the problems have been temporarily fixed.  He explained permanent solutions are being worked on.

Police Capt. Boschert added, 'At no time during these leaks or the wind problem or temperature problem at no time was any evidence compromised or affected  in anyway what so ever.'

The controversy over the crime lab began last year when County Police Chief Tim Fitch raised conflict of interest questions about subcontracting work performed by SM Mechanical, a firm owned by the then president of the county police board Gregory Sansone.   Fitch eventually brought the issue to the attention of the FBI when County Executive Charlie Dooley continued to stand by Sansone.  Dooley said it was not a conflict because the Sansone firm had been hired by the general contractor ICS Construction.

Sansone later resigned as board president.  Chief Fitch is preparing to retire this week.

Betsey.bruce@tvstl.com
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