Possible renovations for Billings police evidence locker - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Possible renovations for Billings police evidence locker

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Police Chief Rich St. John isn't going into specifics as to all the changes made within this facility, but what he is saying is that the Billings Police Department evidence locker no longer meets the standards of the department when it comes to ensuring evidence is secure.

The question is, will Tuesday's announcement be enough to turn a two-year conversation into action?

Evidence technicians within the Billings Police Department must now undergo the same level background checks as city police officers. That's just one change to come out of a recent investigation into a former city employee who worked at the police evidence locker.

At least 138 criminal cases were impacted when an evidence technician with the Billings Police Department allegedly helped herself to oxycodone pills stored in evidence at the evidence facility.
The chief says it's just this kind of issue that the department wants to avoid in the future and for Chief St. John, that means a modern facility with better security.

"As you're aware, we're in the process of having a conversation with council about renovating or relocating our facility. It is an expensive prospect but it is worthy of a debate," St. John said. "A modern facility is critical in the evidence operation."

Conversations about an upgrade go back at least two years. 

Council members we spoke with agree, changes must be made.

"Evidence needs to be the utmost importance in keeping the chain of custody. On top of it we need to make sure the safety of our police force is there and the safety of the public are in that situation," said City Council member Chris Friedel. "So, when we make this decision we need to look at our objective."

Right now the city is working with an architect to outline what a modern facility might look like.

Their goal is to ensure the chain of custody of evidence isn't easily compromised in the future.

"When we do build the next facility – that these policies are in line when we build these buildings, that these policies that are implemented complement the building that we build so these issues don't arise habitually," adds Friedel.

Chances are there will be no drastic changes in the near future.

However, council members will discuss the cost of a new facility as they begin work on next year's city budget.


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