The evidence

Monday, October 23, 2006

Some evidence at the Scott County Sheriff's Department is preserved in a room Sheriff Rick Walter acknowledges is in disarray. Some have inventory tags, some do not. Some of the seized property relates to cases dating to the 1990s.

The gun vault is better organized but contains 300 weapons that have been stored for 30 years or more.

A state audit found that the department's inventory of seized property was not up-to-date, that property had been misused or stolen and that some items were being stored needlessly. The auditors cited the lack of a complete inventory and questioned why as many as eight deputies had keys to the secure areas.

Walter became the sheriff in Jan. 1, 2005, after the retirement of longtime sheriff Bill Ferrell. Walter says he inherited much of the situation and says current case inventories are better organized.

The sheriff doesn't want to auction off old guns that could later be used in a crime, but other old evidence could be sold off.

Walter claims he would have to hire two extra people for two months or stop investigations to get the evidence room straightened up. Why not clean it up? The alternative is to continue to maintain evidence in a fashion that does not serve the people of Scott County.

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