Evidence

An evidence technician enters a house on Gila Bend in Paradise Valley in 2015. A new report found the Casper Police Department is taking in evidence at a faster rate than it disposes of it. 

File, Star-Tribune

The Casper Police Department is accumulating evidence far more quickly than it is disposed of, which means a department that already has six evidence storage facilities will need to add storage space if things don’t change.

An external review of the police department conducted by the Center for Public Safety Management indicates that the department is still holding onto evidence that’s more than 20 years old and the department does not have an accurate count of evidence in custody.

The department switched to a computerized evidence tracking system in the early 1990s. Older evidence did not make it into the computer system at the time of the changeover, and the index cards used to catalog evidence were thrown out. The department did not begin accurately tracking evidence disposal until 2014, according to the review.

Between 2015 and 2016, the department cataloged more than 18,000 new pieces of evidence and disposed of about 9,000. At this rate, the department will have to expand its evidence storage facilities, the report states. Instead, the report recommends that the police department purge old, unnecessary evidence.

Evidence cataloging in 2015 and 2016 was comprehensive, according to the report.

“Without the commitment to stay on top of this issue, the department will again find itself in the position of needlessly storing obsolete property and evidence,” the report states.

The department already has six evidence storage facilities spread across three different city properties. One of those facilities smells like mold or mildew, as a result of historical flooding, according to the report.

Another of those facilities is secured by old technology that needs to be updated, the report states. The main storage facility is not monitored by video cameras and is secured by a lock that does not record entrances. The report recommends that the department install video cameras and an updated lock system to improve security.

The review has been in the works since March. A 155-page report published as a result of the review used data, officer interviews, a site visit and more to assess all aspects of the department, from staffing levels to the handling of investigations. It was released Sept. 27 by the City Manager’s office.

A spokesman for the police department said that Interim Chief Steve Schulz is still looking at the report and is not ready to comment on it.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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