Source claims Memphis Fire Department's evidence room is a mess - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Source claims Memphis Fire Department's evidence room is in disarray

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    Thursday, October 22 2009 7:37 PM EDT2009-10-22 23:37:39 GMT
    The Action News 5 Investigators were given an exclusive look Thursday inside the evidence room at the Memphis Fire Department. Wednesday, Action News 5 showed pictures of what appeared to be a large mess inside the evidence room.  The pictures were part of an October 2008 report that depicted an overcrowded and substandard evidence room, provided by a whistleblower inside the department. More >>

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A source inside the Memphis Fire Department says the department's evidence room is a mess, and it could lead to problems with cases.

Action News 5 obtained a report from the source, from inside the Memphis Fire Department, that includes pictures of evidence in total disarray.  The pictures, taken inside the Memphis Fire evidence room late last year, show plastic bags strewn about and containers rusted over.

Action News 5 asked the source to explain what the pictures mean, but that person did not want to be identified for fear of getting fired.

"If it's not maintained in pristine condition, or as close to pristine condition as possible, there goes your case," the source said of evidence collected by investigators.

The source said the 2008 report prompted the fire department to clean up the evidence room, but fire officials moved evidence into two metal bins.

"By putting it in those bins, especially over the summer with temperatures soaring 110, 115 degrees in those metal containers, it's going to destroy the evidence and any judicial value that evidence might have," the source said.

When Action News 5's cameras arrived at the storage facility Wednesday, an employee secured the front door.  We called the Memphis Fire Department Director Alvin Benson for comment.  According to Benson, the bins were moved to upgrade the evidence room.

"We're renovating the existing evidence facility as it stands right now, so it's going to be new and improved, per the report I actually commissioned myself," Benson said.

Benson said the bins are climate-controlled.

"They are maintained according to anything that we would require on the fire department,"  he said.

The source also claimed there are no procedures in place to handle, store and dispose of evidence, saying, "To my knowledge, it doesn't exist."

But Benson showed us the procedures.

"They work for us and they don't know that we have written procedures?  Okay.  That does give me concern," he said.

Benson said it has been his plan all along to have the new evidence room up and running by December.

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