Clayton Police Department’s latest investment in a new vehicle has already paid off for the department’s Crime Scene Investigations Unit.
The vehicle – a 2021 Ford Transit 250 high top van – was used at two major crime scenes in the past 10 days. One, an armed robbery at the Clayton Walgreens and the other, a hit-and-run accident on US 70 Business near Walmart.
In both cases, the mobile unit was called out and made it possible for Clayton PD’s crime scene technician and evidence custodian, Det. Ron Freeman, to more easily and efficiently process and catalog evidence found at the scene.
Freeman explained that the new vehicle is more of an “office on wheels” that provides expanded space to carry equipment as well as counter and desk space for him to immediately document evidence.
The previous Crime Scene Investigations vehicle was a standard civilian model SUV. Freeman said the vehicle limited the amount of gear that he could take with him when called out to work a crime scene. This meant he often had to spend additional time driving back and forth between the scene and the police station to retrieve equipment and supplies and to transport evidence. Freeman said, “The van gives us a workspace on scene. Having a place to work on-site allows us to get a jump on things. We can immediately begin processing and cataloging the evidence we collect.”
The department purchased the van with funds budgeted in fiscal year 2020-21. The total cost of the vehicle with upfits, was approximately $38,000. Upfits included police lights, siren, radio, lockable cabinets, a desk, and various crime scene equipment.
Chief Greg Tart said, “The extra space gives us the ability to process evidence on site and store larger items of evidence such as doors, windows, and automobile parts that we may collect at a scene that ordinarily would have to be transported to the police department or other secure location before it could be processed.”
He added that the van also can be used as a small mobile command post when needed at incidents or for special events.