The Lake County Sheriff’s Department improved its evidence room layout to gain accreditation and ensure a secure chain of custody.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department in Libertyville, Illinois, acquired a 12,000-square-foot area in a new building for evidence intake and storage. The new facility provided the opportunity to completely rethink evidence room layout, both in terms of the physical space as well as from a process / protocol perspective, and this effort dovetailed with the sheriff’s ambitious goal of becoming the first sheriff’s department to achieve Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP) accreditation.
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While the new facility was still in the early planning phase, the evidence manager called on the local Spacesaver consultant to help analyze the department’s storage needs and explain their options. They met repeatedly over several years to develop and implement a detailed evidence storage plan, and the end result is a comprehensive system that secures the chain of custody throughout the facility.
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Secure evidence intake
Because the evidence department takes in nearly 6,000 pieces of evidence a year, streamlining the intake process was of vital importance. The evidence intake room is accessed via a secure exterior door, and deputies place packaged evidence in one of the Spacesaver pass-through evidence lockers located along the back wall. These lockers have doors on the backs, on the other side of the wall, so that evidence techs working in the evidence storage area can easily retrieve and process the items.
Space-saving box storage
A few inches of wasted space, multiplied by thousands of linear feet of shelving, can really add up. To ensure that every cubic inch was used, the Spacesaver consultant used standard evidence box measurements as the design basis for the entire shelving system. In addition, a high-density storage system doubled capacity by eliminating wasted space in the aisles.
Additional security for weapons
Most accreditation programs require that weapons be kept in an area with an additional layer of security. Adding Spacesaver’s PIN option to the weapons storage aisles saved the department the expense and space of having to build a separate weapons room. In addition, the old shelving system required them to stack boxed guns on top of each other, so the Spacesaver consultant’s careful attention to sizing and spacing of the new shelving resulted in space savings, better organization, and a safer working environment.
Managing heavy and oversized items
As any evidence manager knows, evidence doesn’t always fit in uniformly-sized boxes. Heavy or bulky items need their own heavy-duty shelving solution, but traditional pallet racking takes up a lot of room. That’s why the department opted for Spacesaver’s ActivRAC® Mobilized Storage System for oversized items. The system can accommodate heavy items on new or used pallet racking, and electronic controls facilitate carriage movement.
Keeping supplies close at hand
The evidence manager knew that maintaining an adequate supply of boxes, tape, and other packaging supplies would be crucial to maintaining the chain of custody. In order to ensure that the department would never run out of supplies, he asked the Spacesaver consultant to design a shelving system for spare items.
Soon after staff moved into the new facility, the department became the first, and so far the only, sheriff’s office to receive accreditation from the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP). Evidence room management was part of the thorough accreditation process, and the evidence department’s careful documentation of chain-of-custody procedures, as well as Spacesaver’s secure evidence storage solutions, contributed to the department’s success.