Refrigerated Evidence Storage: Saving space and keeping evidence organized
05 Feb 2018
While laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, evidence for serious crimes must usually be kept for decades. Evidence must be stored securely to maintain the chain of custody, and it must be organized to facilitate retrieval for testing and presentation in court. In addition to these requirements, biological evidence presents an additional storage challenge: it must be kept cold.
All this evidence adds up, and sometimes a city accumulates so much evidence that an off-site facility is needed to improve storage practices. That was the case in Tucson, Arizona, where the city purchased a former distribution center and renovated it to create a state-of-the-art evidence storage facility. The evidence manager, Nancy McKay-Hills, called Spacesaver early in the design process because she knew that she would need to store ever-increasing amounts of evidence within the building’s existing footprint. She worked with the local Spacesaver consultant to design efficient systems for temporary property and evidence storage as well as long-term storage for large evidence, drugs, weapons, and valuables.
Optimizing space was of concern throughout the building, and it was particularly crucial in the cold storage areas. Spacesaver provided mobile shelving systems for the facility’s refrigerator, which typically holds blood and urine samples from DUI cases, and in the freezer, which holds biological evidence from homicides and sexual assaults. The state of Arizona has no statute of limitations on these crimes, and evidence must be kept a minimum of 55 years.
The entire building is a model for best practices in evidence storage, and McKay-Hills said that Spacesaver’s early involvement played a big part of the facility’s design. “That’s what made it such a success: Getting Spacesaver in at the beginning, when the architects were still planning,” she said. “If you wait until you start building to get everyone talking, it’s too late.”
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