BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Police Department is transferring its highly secured evidence storage area to a facility double the size of its current one.
At Buckhannon City Council’s most recent meeting Dec. 15, 2022, council approved just over $15,000 in funding for protective fencing for a new, larger evidence storage area that would be housed in the vicinity of the Buckhannon City Street Department’s new headquarters on Mud Lick Road.
Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory explained that because the BPD is accredited by the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the department must abide by stringent standards that guide evidence collection and storage practices.
“The evidence and property control function is very rigidly defined by a wide variety of CALEA standards,” Gregory told council. “In fact, an entire chapter within the CALEA Standards Manual is dedicated strictly to evidence and property control. Within those respective standards is the item that we have before us tonight and that is the large evidence storage area.”
“To satisfy the standard initially, the police department identified the area on Factory Street beside the Old City Garage to serve as the large evidence storage area, which, in turn, satisfied the CALEA standards through our first assessment,” the police chief added. “The standard calls for, among other things, not only to identify a large evidence storage area but that we follow the same principles and standards applied to all evidence to include the evidence facilities within the police department. So, in other words, we have very distinct processes for intake and removal of evidence from these areas, as well as security of these areas.”
Gregory said with the possibility looming that the city may sell or transfer the property at 16 Factory Street, the home of the former Buckhannon City Street Garage, the police department, which previously housed its evidence storage area in that building, is required to identify a new city-owned evidence storage facility. (At its Dec. 1 meeting, council had been poised to take action on an item listed on the agenda as 16 Factory Street property matters, but following a brief executive session, members unanimously voted to table the matter until a meeting in January.)
“With the recent change in the status of the property at that location, we do need to move that facility to another city-owned location and in so doing, I met with [city public works director] Jerry Arnold to examine some areas on the Mud Lick property, and through these meetings, we were able to identify a suitable location to house the large evidence storage areas,” Gregory said. “In order to comply with the CALEA standards of security and the processes that encompass that, we have to ensure that the same level of security that we had on Factory Street transfers over to the Mud Lick location.”
Gregory said the city received two separate quotes for barbed wire fencing with the lowest having been submitted by Dan Neel Fence Company in Bridgeport for a total of $15,150 — $3,500 for the installation of an outer gate and $11,650 for an inner that will actually surround the large evidence storage area itself. Gregory said the quote also included the removal of an automated gate currently surrounding the property.
Councilman CJ Rylands wanted to know what the city planned to do with the automated gate, and Public Works Director Jerry Arnold said it will be repurposed on the other side of the road where the city’s waste garage is located.
Rylands made a motion to accept the quote from Dan Neel Fence Company, and City Recorder Randy Sanders. Councilman Jack Reger asked Gregory if he could ever foresee the need to expand the evidence storage age.
“While we’re doing this, do you ever anticipate the need to expand?” Reger asked.
“I don’t think so,” the police chief answered, “and the reason being is the area we are moving to is double the size of the [evidence storage] area we have now, and the area we have now has been adequate and the move to the new facility will be more than adequate.”