The Hanford Police Department has nearly finished renovating its new evidence room, which will consolidate nine existing storage locations.
Capt. Pat Crowe said the department will likely begin moving evidence into the building, located at 422 N. Douty St., sometime in the next couple of months. HPD currently stores evidence in multiple locations, including converted closets and a room with a nonfunctioning electric generator.
“We are at the stage where we can start emptying out some of the other evidence rooms we have here,” Crowe said.
Last year, the city purchased the two office buildings at the southwest corner of Douty and Center streets for $420,000. The buildings are part of a long-term plan to add office space and parking to the police station on Irwin Street.
Crowe said evidence technicians have already started moving some smaller items that are frequently requested by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. The police department recently finished installing surveillance cameras, steel doors, alarms and other features to secure the former office building.
All that remains is the installation of two large “pass-through” lockers. The lockers allow officers to package and deposit evidence. Once items have been placed in the locker, the items can only be accessed by an evidence technician on the other side of the wall.
“She can access everything there, take it out of the box and do her processing,” Crowe said. “She prints out a bar code label and it’s automatically entered into our computer system.”
Crowe said police will likely wait to move most evidence until after the department can complete an evidence purge. While evidence for homicide cases is usually stored for many years, Crowe said, evidence for lesser crimes can usually be eliminated after it’s no long required for court appeals.
“We don't want to handle it more than we need to,” he said. “That's redundant.”
Crowe said the former evidence locations in the basement of the main police station have already been claimed by various divisions of the department. The old generator room will be remodeled into an armory. Crowe said HPD’s existing armory lacks ventilation, which is essential when using chemical solvents to clean firearms.
While work is wrapping up in the evidence building, HPD officials are still in the early stages of remodeling the building to the north. Crowe said the department is working with an architect to design the facility, which will house the investigations division.
Because there is still one tenant in the building from before the city bought it, police can’t begin construction until the tenant moves out in July.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ll be able to make too much movement on that until after July anyway,” Crowe said.
The city will eventually demolish the existing investigations and records buildings to build a parking compound.