Evidence Processing System Assists with CALEA Accreditation at Parker PD

-Sponsored Content- The town of Parker, Colorado, located approximately 30 minutes southeast of Denver, has much in common with its city neighbor—in particular, the close proximity to the mountains and the active, outdoor-oriented activities that accompany them. It’s part of the reason why Money Magazine listed Parker as one of the “Best Places to Live in the United States” and it’s also why the population has swelled significantly over the past 20 years.

“Because of that, our department has seen a significant amount of growth as well,” says Ron Combs, who serves as a Captain for the Parker Police Department. The police force moved to a new building in the 1990s, but that facility—an old bank building—was never meant to be a police department. “We did our best over a 12-year period of time to makeshift the rooms in the building to be as functional as possible, but it wasn’t working,” says David King, Parker’s Chief of Police. With only 15,000 square feet, the department simply had no more room to grow—and they began using costly off-site storage. They knew they needed a more complete solution that would allow them to have all their functions under one roof, and with that, planning for the new facility began in 2008.

Depositing evidence files at Parker, Colo. Police Department

Researching and planning a new facility

The planning team at Parker PD started looking at other similar facilities to find out what would provide optimal efficiency and organization within their space. The new facility would give the department an additional 30,000 square feet, but they knew from past experience how quickly the space would fill up. “We wanted to make sure our evidence room, detention facility, and the other areas were designed for at least a 20-year build-out,” King says.

Combs had the responsibility of being the facilitator for the new space—working with the building’s architect and contractor as well as specific groups of Parker Police Department staff to make sure everyone had a say in what they thought would be best for the new facility. “We really wanted folks to have input,” Combs said. “We knew it needed to be a group effort.”

An officer deposits gear into a bank of built-in lockers at Parker PD.

New facility, new evidence processing and storage systems

One of the areas that needed the most help in the transition to the new facility was the property and evidence handling storage systems. Lt. Chris Peters works with Parker’s Evidence Department to monitor how effectively each piece is stored and catalog. When he first came to the department, the evidence room was poorly organized—and lacked a system for cataloging. In planning for the new facility, he knew he wanted to make a big change in the way Parker was processing evidence—and a new process would require a new way of storage.

In order to maximize available space and increase the efficiency of the evidence technician staff, the department’s architecture firm suggested high-density mobile storage systems for long-term storage. Spacesaver worked with the architect and department staff to create a shelving system within the mobile storage unit specifically configured based on the sizes of the evidence boxes that would be stored on that shelf.

The chain of custody for short-term evidence was improved as well by the implementation of a bank of pass-thru evidence lockers that are built into the wall, allowing evidence to be deposited from one side and retrieved from another. Parker’s evidence lockers also include a refrigerated compartment for biological evidence processing.

“We probably have one of the only property rooms that has extra space because it’s organized so well,” says Peters. “I think we have one of the best evidence facilities not only in the state, but in the country.” The new evidence facility at Parker has led to two CALEA accreditations and an additional one from IAPE, as well as a state accreditation through the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police—all in the past two years.

Boxes of long-term evidence are stored on rolling, mechanical-assist, high-density shelving systems.

No downtime allowed for records processing

Parker’s records room includes the paperwork of every case that has been processes since the department’s founding. Cheryll Evans, Records Technician for Parker, says that the records aren’t just paper, which makes storage a challenge.

“It’s the original report taken by the police officers, and plenty of attachments after that—photographs, CDs, disks, any additional files from the investigative detectives following up on a particular case,” she says. “If there’s extra stuff attached to a record, we place those in large three-ring binders.” The binders were cumbersome and didn’t fit the shelving in the old building. Evans goes on to say that destroying evidence for certain cases is difficult, if not impossible. “According to regulations, we have cases that need to be kept for two, three, ten years, indefinitely. It depends on what kind of case it is,” she says.

A mechanical-assist high-density mobile system was installed in the records room to ensure that the records department was always functional. Rather than installing a powered mobile system, Parker PD’s chose a 3-spoke wheel to easily open aisles. “We opted for this type of storage system because we can’t afford any downtime in case the electricity fails in the building,” Evans says.

It was also important to Evans to keep the future of the department in mind. “Right now, we’re at two-thirds of the system’s capacity,” she says. “However, it also makes it easier to find and process the records that can be purged. Because of that, I believe this will be able to serve us indefinitely.”

An officer processes a piece of evidence to be deposited into a bank of keyless pass-through lockers. Incoming evidence can then be retrieved by an evidence technician on the opposite side of the wall.

A space for the community

Parker Police Department’s new building has met—and surpassed—all of its goals. Thanks to the layout of the building and the systems within it, off-site storage has been eliminated, and the department was able to bring all the facets of its service under one roof.

Parker’s Chief of Police, David King, sums it up the best. “We’re a department that exists to serve our community, and we’re a problem solving organization,” he says. “We’re always looking for ways to operate better, and these storage solutions certainly bring us into the future with what we need to accomplish.”

CALEA Accreditation is made easier with smarter storage. Spacesaver’s storage specialists can assist you with best practices. Click here to schedule a free storage assessment today.

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The language barrier between English-speaking investigators and Spanish-speaking witnesses is a growing problem. (Updated 28 February 2011)