Spacesaver’s evidence lockers and compact shelving systems help organize and store crucial evidence.</em
O ur criminal justice system is based on the presumption of innocence, which means law enforcement must prove guilt beyond a “reasonable doubt” to win a conviction. Any doubt about the integrity of a piece of evidence — any unanswered question about how evidence was handled at any step along the way from the point of collection to presentation in the courtroom — can lead to criminals walking free and crimes going unpunished.
Spacesaver’s experienced consultants understand the importance of establishing and maintaining a well-documented chain of custody. We have worked with hundreds of law enforcement agencies, large and small, throughout the U.S. and Canada to design and install comprehensive evidence storage solutions.
We recently completed a project with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, located east of Atlanta, Ga., that shows how we help improve workflows, ensure security, and increase storage capacity — and help give you peace of mind.
To successfully achieve convictions, law enforcement personnel must prove they’ve handled evidence properly at all times, from the crime scene to the courtroom.
Like many law enforcement agencies around the country, Rockdale County was faced with ever-increasing amounts of evidence that needed to be stored — and this evidence included valuable items like drugs and guns and biological specimens that required refrigeration. Due to budget constraints, the sheriff’s department was using small “gym” style lockers with padlocks for evidence storage, and staff had to use dorm refrigerators to store biological evidence. Storage areas were cramped and overcrowded.
These problems were exacerbated by the fact that the department’s outdated floorplan led to an inefficient evidence processing workflow.
When the department acquired funding for a new building, improving their evidence storage was a top priority. Their local Spacesaver consultant worked with them to understand their needs and recommend solutions.
“We needed to be sure we were within standards for certification purposes but also for prosecutorial purposes.”
~ Rockdale County Sheriff Eric J. Levett
A design consultant from the nearby Atlanta-based Spacesaver affiliate met with decision-makers multiple times to understand exactly what the department needed to store, what space would be available, and how the agency’s workflows could be streamlined by reconfiguring the space. Spacesaver’s design consultants have a thorough understanding of the needs of public safety institutions and are able to act as a liaison between agency staff and the project’s architects and contractors. This ensures that even the smallest details are considered in advance.
Purchasing was simple: The county, as a public entity, was an National Joint Powers Alliance member and was able to fulfill the bid process by simply specifying Spacesaver, an authorized NJPA supplier. This video explains how the NJPA works:
The county’s new evidence storage system is a model of efficiency and accountability. The Spacesaver design consultant worked with the sheriff’s office leadership and the project architects at every step along the way to ensure that all scenarios were considered, from short-term storage of biological evidence to longer-term storage of high-value evidence like guns and narcotics.
The evidence processing room is located on the lower level, and technicians can retrieve evidence without leaving the room. Officers and deputies book drug evidence into the evidence processing room through sally port lockers, which are conveniently located near the vehicle entrance. Other evidence is booked via pass-through evidence storage lockers. Pass-through evidence lockers have locking doors on the front and the back — so officers open a numbered locker, deposit labeled evidence, and close the door, which automatically locks. Then evidence technicians working in the evidence room on the other side of the wall can simply unlock the compartment from the back, retrieve the evidence, and process it without leaving the room and, most importantly, without risking contamination. A refrigerated evidence locker ensures that biological evidence is maintained at the proper temperature.
After evidence is removed from the temporary storage lockers, it is processed and placed in longer-term storage to await trial. In the longer-term evidence storage areas, space-saving compact storage systems were installed to eliminate wasted aisle space and make the most of the available area.
Drugs and weapons are stored in a separate room, where another set of shelves on rails maximizes storage space and locking Rollok doors provide additional security for weapons storage.
Spacesaver’s local affiliate helped out at every step along the way, from concept to installation and routine maintenance.
Spacesaver’s local design consultant helped staff double the facility’s storage capacity, ensure a secure chain of custody for evidence storage, and improve the facility’s layout and workflow. By calling their local affiliate early in the design process, the sheriff’s office was able to take full advantage of the consultant’s expertise and design detailed evidence storage solutions from the ground up.
Now staff at Rockdale County can rest easy knowing that evidence entrusted to their care is secure and accounted for throughout the criminal justice process, from the point of collection through the completed trial.
“This project helped us keep our state certification and now we’re moving toward CALEA certification,” said Captain Duane Day. “It’s definitely made our process and our facility a lot better.”
“This project helped us keep our state certification and now we’re moving toward CALEA certification. It’s definitely made our process and our facility a lot better.”
– Captain Duane Day, Rockdale County Sheriff’s Department