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Evidence secure at Sheriff's Office

"State investigators found no evidence that evidence in the Island County Sheriff's evidence room was tampered with when an evidence room door was left unlocked last summer.Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks and Sheriff Mike Hawley asked for the audit from the state attorney general's office last fall because of concerns that evidence could be challenged in court.The problem started when the former evidence technician went on vacation at the end of last July and returned in the first week of August to find that the inner door of the room was not locked and the light was on.The department immediately conducted an independent investigation and found that a department supervisor had been in the room the Friday before and forgot to lock the door behind him.Only three people have keys to the inner door while over a hundred people have keys to the other door. There was no reason to believe anything had been tampered with, Hawley said, but the AG was called in as a precaution.The two AG investigators reviewed the case, conducted interviews and sent out questionaires to employees. They also spoke to the former evidence tech, who said he did an unofficial audit before leaving and found no problems with the inventory.There was evidence related to about 50 cases being processed in the evidence lab during the time the door was left unlocked.In the report released last month, Chief Criminal Investigator Lockheed Reader and Chief Criminal Attorney Brian Moran, both from the attorney general's criminal investigation section, concluded that there was no evidence tampering and no improper entry was made into the room. The investigators did, however, offer some recommendations about evidence storage.The recommendations include: Changing the lock on the outer door of the room; adding an alarm and monitoring system; and reorganizing evidence so that guns, money and narcotics are stored separately. "

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