New Vancouver police building stores bloody evidence

VPD facility includes Canada's largest rotating bike rack

In the blood drying room, youll find a special fridge for insects, including maggots and flies, standing against one wall. Its one feature of the Vancouver Police Departments new Property and Forensic Storage facility which officially opened Tuesday.

And according to building manager Ian Wightman, the new 87,000-square-foot building at 2010 Glen Dr. is 500 times better for storing evidence compared to the old storage locker at 312 Main St.

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This is a quantum leap from where we were before, Wightman told reporters and dignitaries gathered for a one-time, guided tour of the $30 million building. Among those present were federal Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore, VPD Chief Jim Chu and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Wightman led the tour, which included the blood drying room used to allow bloody or wet evidence to stabilize before being stored as evidence.

Wightman said staff needed 28 days to move 420,000 pieces of evidence from Main Street. He noted the new storage facility will safely hold more than two million pieces of evidence. The oldest piece of evidence is from a 1926 homicide. That evidence will be destroyed by Wightman himself once its been in storage for 99 years, the maximum length of time evidence is kept from unsolved crimes. Wightman is also in charge of destroying confiscated weapons to ensure they dont get back onto the street. During the tour, Wightman pointed out large containers dubbed burn buckets, filled to the brim with nunchucks, ninja stars, knives, whips and chains. Other evidence stored in that section of the building included samurai swords, a baseball bat and a hammer and crowbar combination tied together.

The building is home to Canadas largest rotating bike rack, which runs on a conveyor system that looks similar to whats used by dry cleaners. The majority of the 465 stolen bikes on the conveyor are stored at ceiling height, freeing up valuable floor space for other uses

A nearby storage room was heaped with 62 stolen bikes and bike frames recovered during a Jan. 20 sting operation at the Arco Hotel located at 83 West Pender St. Police officers responding to another call discovered the stash and speculate a chop shop was working out of the building.

A large vehicle storage area is large enough to house passenger vehicles and commercial trucks and buses. During the tour, members of the VPDs Forensic Investigation Unit demonstrated how to dust a car for fingerprints. Two VPD offices used tape to lift fingerprints from the window of a car. The same day the VPD also opened a new building for administrative and investigative services at 3585 Gravely St., on land purchased by the City of Vancouver in 2005.

The 245,000-square-foot building will house the Major Crime Section, including homicide, robbery and arson, as well as a ballistics range, forensic laboratory, Sex Crimes, General Investigation, Property Crime Units and Integrated Riot Investigation Team. The public service counter is now housed at Gravely Street. These new facilities will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Vancouver police officers, Chu told the crowd prior to the tour. It is very reassuring to see all three levels of government recognize that public safety is a priority.

The $45-million price tag for the buildings was covered by the city and provincial and federal governments.

As for the fate of 312 Main St., which formerly housed most of the VPDs services, units and evidence, some officers will remain in whats called the Annex. The future of the rest of the building will be determined.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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