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  • John Clayton, Laurens County Advertiser

Evidence storage facility a necessity for LCSO

By John Clayton Website Link

Editor

(Editor’s Note: The Laurens County Advertiser is taking a look at each of the 16 projects proposed to be funded by the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) in Laurens County. The 1-cent sales tax will be put to a referendum in the Nov. 3 General Election. The next proposed project Is a new evidence storage facility for the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

Evidence gathered by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office sits in a dank area of the Laurens County Law Enforcement Center that was once the county and city jails.

Now, it’s simply referred to as “the old jail.” But no one in law enforcement refers to it as a proper facility for holding and maintaining physical evidence.

A $1,946,250 proposal for a new LCSO evidence and storage facility is among the 16 capital projects to be put to a vote as part of a countywide referendum in the Nov. 3 General Election.

“The roof in very poor condition, so when it rains you have a lot of water intrusion,” said county Public Works Director Dale Satterfield. “There’s a lot of mildew and deterioration and dampness in the building, so it’s becoming more difficult to properly maintain that evidence as we’re expected to maintain it.”

The LCSO had a choice between attempting to rehab the “old jail” or constructing a new building when requesting to be included in the CPST referendum.

Satterfield said the decision was simple. The county is looking at a new evidence facility that would be located on property it already owns near the Johnson Detention Center.

The new facility would provide more room, which Satterfield said is important due to the size of some evidence such as vehicles – or at least vehicle parts – and the length of time some evidence must be stored.

“Evidence storage is very critical to the judicial system law enforcement, most people probably does not know, but you have to keep the evidence, when you prosecute a case,” Satterfield said. “You have to keep and maintain that evidence for as long as someone is put in the system. As long as they're incarcerated or on parole – until they're completely out of the system – you have to maintain that evidence by which they are prosecuted.”

Other electronic evidence, including digital images from crime scenes and documents, need to be stored on computers or in the “cloud,” but the current facility isn’t properly equipped for that either.

Satterfield said the bottom line is that the building was never been suited for its current use of evidence storage.

Its rapid deterioration means it will have to be replaced at some point in the near future.

“Our goal is to have a building established that will enable us to handle all evidence adequately,” said Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds.

Plans for a new evidence facility have already been drawn up by an architect and presented to county council.

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