Where does the evidence go?

"In Manatee, a turf battle over evidence" (from the Bradenton Herald)

For more than 15 years, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has had an abysmal record of safeguarding the physical evidence and property it’s required to protect and store.

Evidence has been lost, destroyed or damaged by the elements.

Criminal charges have been dismissed and convictions overturned because the evidence was missing or destroyed.

Now, efforts to finally correct the festering problem have been put on hold because of a “difference of opinion” about where to best store the ever-growing mountain of evidence -- an impasse between the sheriff, who’s constitutionally mandated to preserve the evidence and store the property, and the county administrator, whose bosses on the county commission are legally obligated to provide space for the sheriff to do his job.

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube wants the entire evidence room moved to his headquarters on old U.S. 301, where everything would be centrally located.

“It’s taken us nearly two years to go through seven different locations in the county and get it all under one roof,” Steube said. “We’re almost there. We almost have a manageable product.”

But Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker wants the evidence moved to the old county jail in downtown Bradenton.

“It’s a difference of opinion. I told that to the board last week,” Hunzeker said this week. “I’m not quite sure how we can reconcile it.”

Click here to read the full article.

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