Grand Jury: KCSO property room in need of fire suppression system

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County Grand Jury investigation found that the Kern County Sheriff’s Office’s property room does not have an adequate fire suppression system. 

During a visit in February, the grand jury said in a new report that it found that the sprinkler system in the basement had visibly corroded pipes that may not have been functional and that the first and second floors lack a fire suppression system altogether. 

The grand jury said that while KCSO previously agreed to research the cost of installing such a system, recent budgets have not included funding for it.

The grand jury also said it found that there was poor ventilation in the narcotics storage areas, there was a lack of adequate security cameras in the facility, an outdated elevator and no emergency power generator to maintain proper storage temperatures for DNA evidence. 

The grand jury said the facility is filled to near capacity with about 150,000 pieces of evidence in the facility, the oldest dating back to the 1930s. There are approximately three years of storage space remaining in this building. Around 20,000 pieces of new evidence are added annually.

“The Property Room is clean, organized and efforts to optimize the space is obvious. The Grand Jury recognized the staff is doing their best to maintain irreplaceable evidence but only so much can be done in a building that is past its usefulness,” the report says. 

The grand jury is recommending the following actions:

Install a fire suppression system on all floors.
Request an annual fire inspection by the appropriate agency. 
Develop an emergency key system.
Develop a policy allowing after-hours access to the Property Room in the event of a fire.
Install an emergency power generator system and its connections. 
Identify and acquire a larger facility to accommodate all current and anticipated evidence for the next five years with the option for future expansion. Accelerate the process of the return or destruction of evidence to free up space. 
Install an enhanced ventilation system in the marijuana and narcotics storage areas.
Acquire a flammable storage cabinet to contain all flammable items. 
Due to the elevator requiring significant repair or replacement, consider relocating to a new building. 

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