DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- The Dubuque County Sheriff says his office needs a more secure way to store criminal evidence.
Right now evidence is stored at the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center, but also in storage facilities around town.
Sheriff Joe Kennedy said evidence like cash, drugs or guns are stored at the law enforcement center. However, not all evidence can fit there.
Kennedy said those items include, "things like cars, lawn mowers, weed whackers."
Kennedy said his office spends about $3,600 a year on renting storage space around town. He wouldn't disclose the exact location.
He said that money adds up over the years.
"Over the course of 20 years the sheriff's department would be spending about $150,000 in lease," he said. "The county attorney’s office also leases space and for the same amount."
Kennedy figures the county could save money and increase security by building its own evidence storage facility, which would include cameras, fencing and office space.
"We felt it was a little bit more long-term sustainable if we're owning rather than leasing," he said. "So we would save those two entities about $300,000.”
He proposes building the facility on county owned property on Seippel Rd., either where the emergency responder training center is located, or near the new county public works building.
"Obviously if we built it on county property then we don't have to pay for the property," Kennedy said.
His high estimate for the project is $500,000.
Dubuque County Supervisor Jay Wickham said he's open to the idea and funding it.
He said, "we have to take a look at the other fund balances, the other department requests, and obviously tax assessments as well, so we'll be taking a deeper dive starting in January."
The county's final budget for Fiscal Year 2020 is March 15th.
The Dubuque Police Department also stores their evidence at the law enforcement center.
Property and Evidence Coordinator Travis Kramer is just one of two officers who has a key and access to the room.
He said it's easy for the space to fill quickly.
"Sometimes I’ll get 75 to 100 items in on a Monday, where on a Tuesday it might only be 30 or 40," he explained. "We got in the ballpark of about 12,000 to 15,000 items in our evidence room."
Like the sheriff's office, the police department also leases storage space for larger items. Kramer said he can see the benefits of having county owned storage space.
If this evidence storage facility is built, Kennedy said the county could lease space to the police department. However, Assistant Police Chief Jeremy Jensen said no decisions have been made yet.
If funded, Kennedy believes a need will be filled.
"It doesn't take much for an item to kind of outsize our evidence room," he said.