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New Mandate Means Law Enforcement Will Keep Evidence Longer, But Do They Have Room?

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Fairfield County, OH


Each day, murders, rapes, other serious crimes take place. In nearly all of those cases, evidence is collected and used in court cases. But, a new Ohio mandate makes crime labs and law enforcement hold some evidence for up to 30 years.

The Fairfield County property room is bursting at the seams. Susie Crist is the property room manger.

"This is the old property room evidence and all these drawers and bins are full," Crist said.

At its second location, it doesn't get much better. They can't just stack things anywhere either.

"We have thousands of pieces of property and it's important, a lot of responsibility," Sheriff Dave Phalen said.

And now comes word they will have to hold more items for longer.

"When I think about it we'll hold property till I'm 93 years old. A long time to hold property," Phalen said.

Things are very full, and don't show signs of slowing down, officials said. In just one morning, the property room took in 83 items.

Each day, officials said wonder just how much they can take. With a new mandate and no guarantee there will be that golden ticket from anyone to help pay for more room, the office worries that the walls are closing in on them.

"We will run out (of room) at some point in the future," Phalen said.

"It's overwhelming. It's a lot and have to know where to put it so it's preserved. We need to come up with a plan of where and how," Crist said.

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