City Council Gives Police Funds for Safe Evidence Facility

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The Grand Junction Police Department says it's evidence facility is unsafe for employees, and City Council decides to do something about it.

Monday night, City Council voted unanimously to give the police department $343,000 for a safe building. Members of City Council say they have had the opportunity to go inside the building and were disgusted by what they saw. They say the building is past its prime and that now is the time to move out.

Officers say they are excited about City Council's decision.

"This is a great win for us," said GJPD Commander Bob Russell. "We're able to get this taken care of and move forward with the project."

The current building is an old, run down auto body shop that police have had to use for years. During an audit this summer, they found out it was unsafe.

The building is infested with mice and rats, and has dangerous bacteria and mold growing inside

Police say the building is in such bad condition, employees who go inside have to wear air tight suits and respirators for their own health and safety.

"It makes the job of cataloging and tracking evidence much more challenging," said GJPD spokesperson Linda Bowman. "Certainly, it's not very cost effective for us to have to buy extra equipment just to maintain our evidence in sub-standard conditions."

Officials are particularly concerned about hantavirus, a disease carried by mice that can lead to lung failure.

"Hantavirus is very serious," said Mesa County Public Health spokesperson Kristy Westerman. "It cannot be treated and it can be fatal, so that's something where prevention is the most important piece."

That's not the only problem the mice cause. Police say they've had instances where the unwanted rodents have tampered with evidence.

"They go to a food source, which for them is marijuana and other drug paraphernalia that we have inside there," said Commander Russell. "They eat it and it does compromise it."

Officers say the building looks disgusting, smells bad, and that they never want to go inside unless they absolutely have to. Soon, they won't.

"The moisture, the roof leaks -- those problems will be eliminated with this, " said Commander Russell.

The new facility will be the National Guard Armory over in the City Shops Complex. Builders will renovate the armory over the next few months, and the police department hopes to move in early next year.