Boynton Beach police evidence hard to find in tight space

The Palm Beach Post, palmbeachpost.com
BYLINE: Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Link to Article

Boynton Beach, FL

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Evidence Detective Daniel Cline looks for an item inside the evidence room at the Boynton Beach Police Department Friday Feb. 3, 2012. Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post

BOYNTON BEACH — A recent audit of the police evidence unit was unable to account for 40 items, chief Matt Immler said last week .

By Thursday, Immler said, fewer than 11 items remained unaccounted for.

He said none were critical to open cases, where a defense lawyer might employ a "chain of custody" challenge.

Immler said this is the first such incident since he became chief in 2005.

He said the items never were missing; they just couldn't be found in an evidence unit so crowded that bins are stacked on top of each other or slip behind each other on shelves.

"We are completely out of space," Immler said. "That's even with destroying as much evidence and property as we're allowed to every month. The inflow of property overtakes the outflow. "

Immler's solution is one he's pushed for years: a new police station.

The department, one of Palm Beach County's largest, operates in a wing of city hall that totals 18,000 square feet. A 2009 study said it needs 60,000 to 80,000.

All the missing items, Immler said, were from closed cases or cases police likely will not pursue. One item dated to 1983, according to memos obtained by the Post.

While some space for evidence recently opened up in a garage and in parts of city hall, it's either not climate controlled or not secure, Immler said.

Amid the city's continuing budget woes, Immler had laid off two civilian evidence custodians, and employed officers he'd taken off the street for reasons such as injury or discipline.

"That's when we began to notice there was a problem," Immler said.

He said he added six inspections and random monthly checks.

By then, Immler had reassigned two road officers to the evidence unit; they helped in the December audit that turned up the discrepancy.

Immler has compensated by taking two other officers off interagency task forces, one on gangs and one on drugs.

"I didn't want to do that, because I believe in those task forces," Immler said. "But at this point, I don't have any choice."




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Evidence Detective Daniel Cline looks for an item inside the evidence room at the Boynton Beach Police Department Friday Feb. 3, 2012. Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post
 
 
 
 
 



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Evidence Detective Daniel Cline stands next to shelves stocked to the ceiling inside the evidence room at the Boynton Beach Police Department Friday Feb. 3, 2012. Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post
 
 
 



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Items are stacked inside the evidence room at the Boynton Beach Police Department Friday Feb. 3, 2012. Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post
 
 
 
 
 
 



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Evidence containers are stacked inside the evidence room at the Boynton Beach Police Department Friday Feb. 3, 2012. Richard Graulich/Palm Beach Post
 
 
 
 
 

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