Logging, documenting, storing, inventorying and proper disposal of property are the main responsibilities of the Police Officers and civilian employees that work in Evidence. Police Officers bring property, or evidence, from such crimes a burglaries, criminal mischief, or disorderly house, for example.
Evidence may be used during court proceedings and needs to be held until a case is completed. Employees must wait for the appeal process of the legal system to be completed before disposal of evidence is allowed. Illegal property, such drug paraphernalia (marijuana pipe is an example) is discarded, while drugs are incinerated.
Staff contacts individuals who have property that can be released. People are given appropriate notification, either 30 or 90 days depending upon whether its evidence or found property, to claim their property. If there is no response, then the property is either discarded and/or given to www.propertyroom.com. This is a service that takes discarded property and sells it to the general public. A portion of the revenue generated from sales is returned to the City of Cedar Rapids. Some items can be repurposed by the Police Department. For example, materials that could be used for training, televisions used for monitors for training classes, or an air compressor for the Police Range have been repurposed.
Evidence also administers the towing contract. Vehicles are towed and impounded for violations such as Driving While under Suspension, Driving While Barred, Operating While Intoxicated, Drugs/Drug Paraphernalia, Firearms, and Hit & Run. Vehicles may also be towed at the owner’s request, such as from an accident scene.
In 2017, there were 2,824 total vehicles towed; in 2018, there were 2,041 total vehicles towed; and in 2019, there were 1,857 total vehicles towed. These numbers do not include no preference/owner requested tows.
The four employees that work in Evidence are all Evidence Technicians. For a vehicle to be returned to its owner, the owner will typically call, sign for the vehicle, and then pay the towing company for any expenses/fees to return the vehicle.
Vehicles that remain unclaimed after a period of time and after proper notifications are disposed of pursuant to Iowa State Code. The towing company may hold an auction for the abandoned vehicles.
The Property and Evidence Division also processes forfeitures (most often money, guns, and vehicles) and works with the Linn County Attorney’s Office Civil Division to manage these cases.
Another important role of staff is to make copies of video evidence for the Linn County Attorney’s Office or private attorneys upon request.