County police unveil much-needed evidence room expansion

·3 min read

Sep. 10—It appears the Glynn County Police Department is out of the running for a spot on the wacky reality show about folks who cram too much stuff into every nook, cranny and flat space.

On the plus side, the brand-new 1,246-square-foot addition to the evidence room puts the police department one big leap closer to reaching the goal of state and national police accreditation.

The department's new expanded evidence room officially opened Friday. The additions enlarge the space for the crucial task of storing evidence to 2,341 total square feet.

The police department's previous capacity for storing evidence was meager, to put it mildly.

"The old evidence room was being compared to the (Lifetime) TV show 'Hoarders,'" said Glynn County Police Chief Jacques Battiste. "This was beyond needed. We had evidence everywhere. This is a huge step forward for us to be able to meet the criteria for accreditation."

An overhaul of the department's evidence room has long been cited as a priority of the Police Advisory Panel. It is a necessary requirement in attaining accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), an ongoing objective of the department.

Accreditation notwithstanding, providing a more efficient and organized system of storing evidence is a matter of better safeguarding the community the police department is entrusted to serve and protect, Battiste said.

Advisory panel member Ralph Basham made it his mission to see the evidence room expansion through. By way of support, Glynn County Commissioner David O'Quinn found the $130,177 needed for the project from his budget.

The county public works department and an outside contractor performed the work.

"This lends a lot of credibility to the department," Basham said. "We ID'd this as a weak link that needed to be corrected. It's a huge issue as far as accreditation and getting us where we want to be."

The old evidence room was almost at full storage capacity. Still more evidence was being stored in a shipping container on the grounds of the department.

In addition to evidence from police cases, the department also stores some evidence for neighboring agencies. Looking around at the empty rows inside the spacious new addition to the evidence room gave police Sgt. Sheila Ramos reason to smile — and breathing room.

"This is an extreme stress reliever for us," Ramos said. "This is going to allow us to have the space we need."

No matter how red-handed the cops catch the bad guy, the final result is often only as good as the evidence presented in court. Proper storage and maintenance of evidence is of paramount importance, Ramos said.

Consider that evidence in a misdemeanor crime must be held for two years, she said. Evidence in a felony crime has to be held for eight years.

Murder evidence? "Indefinitely," Ramos said.

"It's very much more organized now," she said. "Most importantly, we are better able to maintain the integrity of the evidence. And this allows us to be more effective in maintaining the evidence that is going to court."