Police department improves evidence storage, processing
FARMINGTON — The Farmington Police Department has made significant improvements to the security of its evidence room since it was first discovered three months ago that pills and cash had been stolen.
Highly sensitive items — cash, drugs, jewelry, and guns — are all located in a single newly built room at the department, guarded behind a door that now requires both a security card and a key to open.
Evidence marked for destruction, which is more likely to be stolen and less likely to go noticed as missing, is now also kept under lock and key.
The department's new evidence processing room, where officers will bag, tag and temporarily store items collected during an investigation, is expected to be completed before an onsite inspection by a national accreditation commission this spring.
Perhaps most important, the entire evidence collection process is now under surveillance by nine motion-activated cameras.
Neither the department's two full-time evidence technicians, nor officers themselves, are ever out of surveillance in the new evidence room.
Farmington police Chief Hebbe said the department did not have to request more money from the city to make the improvements.
"Money did not factor in it," he said. "We were able to do this by shifting around our priorities."
Hebbe said one cost savings for the department was switching to a free software system used for tracking electronic citations, rather than purchasing a new system.
City Manager Rob Mayes said he toured the new evidence room earlier this week.
"I am very pleased with the developments," Mayes said. "Not only have we been able to add significant additional space, the added accountability of the camera systems, both the body cameras and the room cameras, are significant."
The realization that changes needed to be made came after the department's sole full-time evidence technician, Ashley Goodvoyce, was arrested on Oct. 17, 2014, in connection to the theft of hundreds of prescription pills and thousands of dollars of cash held in the evidence room.
Internal and external investigators determined that the department needed two full-time evidence technicians, a new drug room and more security features to prevent another theft.
Goodvoyce was charged with embezzlement, tampering with public records and 41 counts of possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.
She is expected to appear at a pre-trial conference on Monday, Jan. 26.
Assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies are expected to visit the department in late March or early April, Hebbe said.
Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.