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Cmdr. Williams at first disputed Officer Fosso’s concerns, then he confirmed that water pressure is so high as to create a “backsplash” of bloody water. He acknowledged there was “a flaw in the design” of the lab floors and drains, conceding that efforts to address those defects would be “substantial.”

In their email exchanges, corroborated by the photos, Officer Fosso and Cmdr. Williams agreed that clogged ventilation filters were restricting airflow in the cabinets, and that lab technicians were forced to leave the cabinets open so bloody clothing could dry on any available flat surface.

In a follow-up email to officers who voiced their concerns, Cmdr. Williams attributed the unit’s problems to “design flaws that are being worked out and by poor habits of members.”

Replied Mr. Davis: “Problems of this magnitude require lengthy efforts to correct. Blaming the techs indicates little or no leadership.”

Kristopher Baumann, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents CSID officers, said D.C. taxpayers deserve better for their $220 million.

“The lack of a functioning crime lab is a serious threat to public safety,” he said. “Sloppy, unprofessional practices can result in criminals going free.”