Raymond police plan new evidence room to address concerns about marijuana, other smells entering stationBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
June 17. 2018 9:34PM
RAYMOND — The police department has been given the green light on a $41,000 renovation project that will create a new evidence room to address several safety concerns, including ventilation issues that allow smells from seized marijuana plants and other items in the evidence room to pass through the entire station.
Selectmen approved the project this week after hearing from Police Chief Michael Labell and Public Works Director Steve Brewer, who proposed the idea of converting part of the station’s sallyport into an evidence room.
The proposal comes after voters last year rejected a $6.8 million plan to build a new police station.
Labell said there are many concerns with the current building that relate to the safety of employees.
One concern is the department’s evidence room, which Labell said doesn’t ventilate through its own ventilation system.
“It ventilates through the same HVAC system as the entire building, meaning if we have dangerous items in there that are airborne, i.e. marijuana plants, things that are moldy, things of that nature, that can be passed throughout the building under our HVAC system and that can affect employees, the visitors, anybody that is in the station,” Labell said.
Unlike the current evidence room, Labell said the new one would ventilate to the outside.
“People have mentioned odors of marijuana in the past, but I wouldn’t classify them as complaints. I would classify them as observations,” he said.
David Salois, the department’s former chief who retired in March, had suggested the possibility of moving the evidence into outdoor storage containers behind the station.
However, Labell said that since the storage container idea was proposed he discussed other options with Brewer and his staff. They decided that a better alternative would be to create a new evidence room in the sallyport, which has been used more for storage space.
Brewer said the renovation project would also allow the department to create a holding cell, which doesn’t exist now. The old evidence room area would be renovated to include an interview room, which the station also doesn’t have.
Some of the sallyport would be kept and could be used for some equipment, Brewer said.
The project is expected to take six to eight weeks, Brewer said.
Newly appointed Town Manager Joe Ilsley has also visited the station and agreed that changes were needed because of liability for employees, the public, and any evidence that could be lost.