Short Stories by Pat Nelson

Out With the Old, In With the New
Woodland Police Station Makes Move


January 2014
By Pat Nelson - Reprinted with permission

December 3 was moving day for the Woodland Police Department. It had outgrown its space in downtown Woodland, and made 200 E. Scott Avenue its new home. When I visited two weeks after the move, there was a small stack of empty cardboard moving-boxes headed for recycling. The smell of fresh paint and construction still hung in the air. Police Department employees were on duty, looking forward to a long stay in their new home.

Mayor Grover Laseke, Chief of Police from 1996 to 2004, proudly stated, "This new facility will give us room to grow for up to 25 years, and probably even longer."

According to Mayor Laseke, planning the new facility was a grassroots effort by all of the people who work in the Police Department. The Chief and his staff determined how they could make the best use of the facility and the money. Mari Ripp, Clerk-Treasurer for the City of Woodland, was instrumental in working on financing and selling the bonds to make the new facility possible.

Maybe I've watched too many crime shows, but when I visited, my favorite part of the new police station was the evidence room. If evidence is tampered with or doesn't follow a secure chain in its handling, a case can be thrown out of court. Our new Woodland police station takes its evidence-handling responsibility seriously.

Donny Conner is the Department's Evidence Clerk. It is Donny's job to protect the evidence so that it is admissible in court. This means that only she and Chief Stephenson have access to the evidence-holding room. I toured the room, but was allowed in only because the evidence had not yet been moved to the new facility. Once the evidence is moved, even Mayor Laseke or the police officers, with the exception of the chief, will be denied access to the room.

Donny explained that when officers bring evidence to an outer evidence room, it is packaged and placed into an evidence locker. Various-sized lockers line a wall. If a locker is empty, the officer can open the door and insert the evidence. But once evidence has been locked inside, no one can open the locker from the outer evidence room. The evidence clerk opens the locker from a secure evidence room on the backside of the lockers. She then processes the evidence. A fuming tank will be used to lift prints from items such as pop cans. A drying cabinet will be used for wet items so that evidence does not become moldy or damaged before trial. Donny will then secure evidence appropriately, in a freezer or refrigerator if necessary; in a drug locker that allows her to see through its metal grids; or in one of the huge high-density-shelving evidence cabinets.

The evidence will soon be moved to the new facility, and although moving is a lot of work, employees at the Woodland Police Department know they won't have to move again for at least 25 years.

Pat Nelson is a contributor to "Not Your Mother's Book..On Being a Woman," "On Being a Stupid Kid," "On Dogs." "On Travel" and "On Home Improvement." She is co-creator of three books in the series: "On Being a Parent" (released September 2013 and available wherever books are sold); "On Being a Grandparent" and "On Working for a Living" (now accepting your true stories at Visit Pat at www.Storystorm.US.

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