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Items of potential evidence, property taken for safekeeping, and found property are all secured in the evidence room. The room is specially constructed, featuring steel-reinforced walls, floor, and ceiling. The steel door is secured with a high-security lock. The room contains a cage secured by an additional lock for storing drugs, firearms and other weapons. A safe within the cage secures cash and jewelry. A refrigerator protects blood and other degradable material from decomposition. A dual alarm system protects the evidence room and notifies the Communications Center whenever there is any motion within the room and when the door has been breached.

Evidence is tracked with both a paper trail and a computer program. Physical inventories and evidence inventory reports are completed twice each year. At least two evidence audits are conducted each year; one is conducted with the first physical inventory of the year, and at least one unannounced surprise audit is conducted whenever the chief deputy calls for it.

To retrieve items from the Sheriff's Office, individuals must contact the officer who took custody of the items. That officer is the person most likely to know when the items are no longer needed for legal proceedings. Even if a case is dismissed in court, the items involved may be pertinent to a different case. Therefore, the evidence control officer will release items that have been submitted to the evidence room only to the officer who seized them.

Many of the duties of evidence control are conducted outside the office. The evidence control officer personally transports evidence to and from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratories in Knoxville and Nashville to prevent other persons becoming a part of the evidentiary chain of custody. The evidence control officer is constantly on call and may be summoned to crime scenes to take custody of items if the investigation will result in large amounts of potential evidence being collected. The evidence control officer frequently attends court proceedings to explain evidence custody procedures if necessary. The evidence control officer and at least one other witness personally observe the destruction of contraband and items of evidence that are no longer needed.

The evidence control officer is also responsible for issuing and inventorying keys for doors and locks controlled by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office. Only the evidence control officer is authorized to have keys duplicated. Each person who receives keys must sign for them. Keys are tracked on paper and with a computer program. Electronic locks are audited periodically for attempts at unauthorized entry. All illegal entry attempts are investigated and reported to the chief deputy.

Sullivan County Sheriff
P.O. Box 589
Blountville, TN 37617
(423) 279-7500

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