Rapid City Police have a new tool to solve crimes. The department has a new evidence building that will streamline investigations and save taxpayer money.
After nearly a year of construction, police are ready to move into the new building.
"It's a much larger building. It gives us the room to expand as we need it. We expect the warehouse will have about three-times the storage space as the previous facility," forensic laboratory director Dr. Richard Bleil said.
The new facility also makes checking in evidence easier on officers, who used to need a key, but can now lock away evidence with a push of a button. It's kept secure until an evidence specialist with a key opens the locker from the other side and is able to access the secured evidence. All of this helps maintain the chain of custody.
"Chain of custody is the chain of who has handled a piece of evidence, meaning who found it at the scene, where it was identified at the scene. And then who brought it into their custody, brought it here and had it in their possession the entire time," Capt. James Johns said.
"We always know at any given point in time where anything is and how long it's been there and for having roughly 20,000 pieces of property that's quite the feat," Bleil said.
The facility will also be home to an accredited forensic laboratory, allowing more analyses to be done on-site.
"Every time you send an analysis out to be done that lab charges us, so as you do more and more of them it becomes a very expensive process to do. By doing them in house we've paid for those analyses up front," Bleil said.
It's an investment that will give police the tools they need to keep solving cases and ultimately lighten the load on taxpayers.
The total cost of the new building came in just less than $8 million; $3.5-million of which was paid by the city.
It's expected to be in use for the next 50 years.