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UAPD Property, Evidence room holds trove of confiscated items

Arizona Daily Wildcat,

BYLINE: Lucy Valencia
Link to Article

Tuscon, AZ

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An envelope, taped and marked, is used as an example for Officers when the submit evidence to the UA Police Department. Items are carefully preserved and cataloged to ensure it remains in the exact state as when it was received. - Erich Healy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

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The UA Police Department Evidence Room where seized property and items submitted for evidence wait for pending cases to close. The items are carefully preserved and cataloged to ensure it remains in the exact state as when it was received.- Erich Healy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Drugs, paraphernalia held until use or ordered to destroy in off-limits area

The thousands of pieces of property that are logged and stored in the Property and Evidence section of the University of Arizona Police Department are classified and connected with case investigations, search warrants or seized as contraband. Students are cited and charged for possession of paraphernalia or marijuana on a daily basis, according to police. The most common item taken as evidence is drug paraphernalia, or the drug itself. After an officer confiscates an item, a more complicated process begins.

"Marijuana is definitely the most common item we deal with," said UAPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Juan Alvarez. "It is usually pipes and the plastic baggie or container where the marijuana is kept or something they carry it in.

"It's hard to say what we have stored in there," Alvarez said of the room. "I, myself, have taken in my share of odd things. Like once, I had a wire hanger that was used to stuff a container of marijuana that I had to log into there."

According to police records, things such as a pink Disney Princess rubber bouncy ball that was found on campus have been turned in along with the plastic bags full of marijuana.

First, the paraphernalia is packaged and the officer places it into an envelope. He or she must initial it before giving it to custodians to file in the property and evidence room. It is stored in a way that will preserve its properties if further lab work is needed so that UAPD can send it out and have it tested, according to police.

UAPD has a special area known as the "Property and Evidence" room in the back of the main station. "When an officer sees evidence involved in a case, they have to package it by certain standards to maintain the chain of custody," Alvarez said. "Then we generally get an order from the court to destroy it. Depending on what it is, we destroy it. A lot of times its shipped to another location where it is destroyed."

Alvarez was unable to disclose the whereabouts of the secondary location where evidence is shipped to be destroyed. "It all depends on what it was," he added.

The room itself is extremely off-limits: only the commander of the police station and Property and Evidence employees are allowed into it, and a log is kept so every person who enters the room must sign in. Property and Evidence technicians Brent Johnson and Michael Aaron are one of the few employees who are allowed to move the materials. They neglected to comment.

Last Sunday, Officer D. Lopez went to Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall after a resident assistant reported she could smell marijuana in one of the rooms. After speaking to the two roommates separately, they admitted they had smoked marijuana from a water bottle. One of them gave the officer consent to search her part of the room, where he found a Powerade bottle stuffed with a small white towel and white laundry dryer sheets. There was a small hole at the bottom of the bottle with a strong odor of marijuana. Lopez placed the item into property and evidence.

Even if an item isn't involved in a case, lost and found items are logged and kept in the same Property and Evidence section.

On Nov. 14, a longboard was found near Sky View apartments and turned into UAPD. Officer Canti placed it into property and evidence. If property is not claimed in over 90 days, an email is sent out to the owner to pick the property up. Then, if he or she fails to do so, their items are turned over to The University Surplus Property Office.

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