There's an ill wind blowing at the new St. Louis County Police crime lab. Literally.
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch says the new ventilation system is delivering "hurricane-like" gales and persistent dripping water that could contaminate evidence in criminal cases. Fitch tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that that hasn't happened yet, but the potential is there.
This is the second controversy for ventilation system. It was installed by SM Mechanical, a company owned by former police board chairman Gregory Sansone. The $3.7 million sub-contract led to an FBI investigation and Sansone's resignation from the board.
Public works officials and the contractor both say bugs like this are normal with new construction. The repairs are covered under warrantee.
As first In a letter leaked to KTRS News, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch is telling County Executive Charlie Dooley to back off his investigation into the contract award process.
In today's letter, Fitch accuses county COO Gatry Earles of requesting information from the police that had been shared with the FBI. Fitch says this request for confidential information is "at the very least unethical and unprofessional". Fitch ends the letter by asking Dooley to instruct his staff to not have contact with employees regarding this matter.
The issue came to light after the Post-Dispatch revealed that one of Dooley's political appointees, Gregory Sansone, created a company that won the lucrative contract shortly after his appointment. Chief Fitch contacted the FBI to investigate the matter. Dooley was frustrated that Fitch involved the FBI in the matter before giving his office a chance to investigate.
More questions are being raised over contracts for the new St. Louis County Police Crime Lab.
At Tuesday night's St. Louis County Council meeting, Councilman Gregg Quinn (R-Ballwin) called for an inquiry into the $3.75 million contract awarded to a company co-owned by Police Board Chairman Gregory Sansone. SM Mechanical, LLC was hired by the general contractor to install the ventilation system at the new crime lab.
Last week, County Police Chief Tim Fitch asked the FBI to investigate the deal. Fitch had questioned the subcontracting process earlier this year, but County counsel Patricia Redington ruled that the situation didn't violate the conflict of interest provisions in the county charter.
Quinn says the County Charter specifically prohibits appointed officials from benefiting financially from such contracts.
County Executive Charlie Dooley responded to the concerns by proposing legislation Tuesday night that would modify county ordinances to hold subcontractors to the same ethical standards as contractors.
Dooley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's disappointed that Chief Fitch went to the FBI instead of coming to him with his concerns.