RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Police department’s property and evidence rooms are meant to store, safeguard and preserve evidence key to solving crimes but a new audit reveals several concerns in Richmond.
The audit showed that the Richmond Police Department’s new property and evidence room lacked cameras in key areas, that former employees still had access to the building and there are no backup generators. RPD began using the facility, which cost $2.9 million, just nine months ago.
Legal experts told if a power outage were to take place, there is a chance some evidence could be degraded or compromised. Attorney Russell Stone says it would be something he would question in a courtroom.
“The fact of the matter is if you certain biological evidence maybe even drug evidence depending on the circumstance s the evidence is supposed to be kept at a certain temperature,” Stone said.
8News did some digging and according to the International Association of Police for Property and Evidence, these rooms are supposed to be temperature controlled with humidity not to exceed 60%. Stone said it could prove critical to solving cases.
“It could result in that evidence not having any use anymore which might mean the Commonwealth might not be able to find a suspect they were looking for,” he told 8News.
8News confirmed that both the Chesterfield and Henrico Police property and evidence rooms have backup generators. So what’s the emergency plan if the power goes out?
Richmond Police’s Interim Chief Will Smith confirmed items will be gathered up and temporarily moved to the state lab in that case.
“It’s not ideal, but it is practical until we are able to have generator backup power at that facility,” Smith said.
The audit also found cameras were not installed in the drugs and firearms room and 12 former employees still had access to the facility. Smith told 8News that concern has been fixed.
As for the generator, Interim Chief Smith says it was important for the department to move out of the old location and work on funding for a generator later. He said the department is working with the City to include it as a capital improvement project but no word has been provided on a timeline.