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Houston police to stop using Whataburger tents as crime scene markers

Police usually wait for crime scene units with the Houston Forensic Center to place evidence markers, but officers have to improvise in some situations


By Eline de Bruijn
The Dallas Morning News

HOUSTON — When Texans grab an order number at Whataburger, some are pocketed to add to a collection or kept as a rite of passage. But a few numbers that left the restaurant ended up as evidence markers at crime scenes.

The Houston Police Department has stopped using Whataburger tents as evidence markers, according to the Houston Chronicle.

A picture shared online after a homicide in March showed a tent marking evidence. A tent was also used in a Nov. 2014 shooting.

Police usually wait for crime scene units with the Houston Forensic Center to place evidence markers, but officers have to improvise in some situations, such as if it’s raining, spokeswoman Jodi Silva told the Chronicle.

“We got a lot of concerns as to whether Whataburger was endorsing us or whether we were endorsing Whataburger and whether they were a sponsor of the police department,” Silva told the newspaper.

Patrol captains ordered officers not to use marked items with visible brand names, Silva said.  

“I think somebody was well-intentioned when they did it,” Silva said to the Chronicle. She said it seemed to be a one-time occurrence.

Although police used plastic cups and containers at a shooting over the weekend, the department does not have an evidence marker shortage, according to the Chronicle.

Patrol officers don’t carry evidence markers because they don’t mark and process evidence. That is a task for the crime scene units, but if officers want to protect evidence from being stepped on or washed away in rain, they find what they can, according to the Chronicle.

Some Texans collect the numbers and try to complete a set. 

A Denton County police department took photos of the tents they obtained in a February Facebook post. In once incident, 70 tents were recovered in a traffic stop. 

 

***RESTAURANT ITEMS RECOVERED *** Recently the Northeast Police Department has been recovering a large quantity of...

Posted by Northeast Police Department on Friday, February 24, 2017

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©2017 The Dallas Morning News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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