CRIME TEAM: Inside Tucson's crime vault - Tucson News Now

CRIME TEAM: Inside Tucson's crime vault

(Source: KOLD News 13) (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It is considered by the International Association For Property and Evidence to be the nation’s best evidence and property storage facility and it’s right here in Tucson.

KOLD News 13 took an exclusive tour inside the Tucson Police Evidence and Property building.

The building has state-of-the-art security. From the eyes in the sky, to the badges and finger scanners to get inside doors.

Nancy McKay-Hills is the TPD evidence superintendent. She has been working in this department for 13 years.

Officers and detectives have about five locations, plus the jail, where they can drop off evidence or property from a crime. There’s a crime tech that drives around the city and picks up all the items.

Each item is placed into a bag and that permanently sealed. McKay-Hills said once it’s sealed, the only way you can open it is by ripping open the plastic.

The items go into one of the three categories -- small, medium or large. The items are sorted and sent to another location of the building, which also has very tight security.

If it is blood, most likely it is from a homicide or sexual assault case. Those items will go in a freezer to be preserved for court. If it’s some other type of fluid, it will go in the fridge. Both areas are kept at a specific temperature.

The high-value items are moved to the treasure area. That's where you have to go through multiple doors and a security lock.

These items, include money, diamonds, instruments and even a basketball signed by the University of Arizona 1997 championship team.

The superintendent said you’ll never know what you will find in the boxes. As for the Final Four basketball, it may have been purchased using drug money.

There’s also a room dedicated to drugs, where you will find everything from cocaine to marijuana. McKay-Hills said being so close to the border, they see a constant flow of drugs coming into the building.

Murder weapons and bloodied clothes

There were two areas in the facility that really hammered home what it is all about.

There’s a side wall at the building just lined with common items you will find at your home. Well, the items are common but their history is anything but.

Bats, brooms, large branches and shovels. Some where used in homicides while others in aggravated assaults.

Another area houses the drying cabinets.

Technicians hang bloodied evidence to dry in the large cabinets, which are similar to dryers you have in your home.

The items usually hang in the cabinets for 24 hours before they are sealed in a bag to be later in court as evidence.

Everything is tagged and tracked.

McKay-Hills said it’s important they know where everything is at all times so it can be used for court.

Fast Facts About The Facility

  • Built in 2008, it is about 80,000 square feet.
  • There are around 650,000 items inside at any given time. 
  • In 2016, more than 98,000 items were collected for evidence.
  • The oldest item in the facility is from 1972.
  • There are 7,050 handguns and rifles in storage.

     

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