Police evidence storage room is literally going to pot

Public Safety Committee is split on remodeling plans; Village Board to address issue next month


Ozaukee Press staff

Day in and day out, the staff-only area of the Grafton Police Department smells exactly as one would imagine an outdoor 1970s music festival, without the breeze.

The distinct aroma of confiscated marijuana accumulated over time has appeared to have permanently permeated the air space, as members of the Public Safety Committee discovered during a tour last week.

“We need a lot of storage,” Police Chief Caponera told members. “We have drugs that are spread out in five different office filing cabinets...all filled to the brim.”

And, every now and then, Caponera said, it gets even worse.

“On Monday morning, if they’ve made a drug arrest, the drugs have been baking in the lockers all weekend,” he said.

Equipment updates could remedy the situation, according to the chief, but since January, Caponera and his staff have not been successful in convincing the Public Safety Committee of the need, despite the $55,500 approved during the 2022-2025 Capital Improvement planning process.

At the first meeting in January, PSC members requested a tour of the evidence room. Following the tour, the discussion was tabled till February.

At the February meeting, no motion was made to Chair Harbeck’s request for a motion to approve. Harbeck then made a motion to put the request back on the table for additional discussion without receiving a second. PSC members said they were not convinced the presented solution was needed at this time, and the upgrade costs were excessive. Harbeck recommended bringing the project back with a better solution at a later date.

Last week, Caponera presented a new plan to the committee, which was $11,500 less than the initial plan. It included locking, ventilated drug storage cabinets, storage bins and upgrade to the heating, ventiliation and air conditioning system, a large chest freezer for storage of sexual assault kits, and a Drug Terminator, an EPA-certified equivalent of a wood chipper for drugs.

Committee members toured the evidence room and other areas again and a motion was made for it to be discussed at the Finance Committee meeting Monday night.

“It was a two to two vote,” said Village Trustee David Antoine. “No decision was made. It will now go on to the next Village Board meeting on August first.”

Antoine said he thinks there are some unnecessary items in the proposal that he can’t support in terms of safety and cost.

“The thermal burner is a real concern,” he said. “I don’t think it is needed or safe for the person running it. I also feel the HVAC system is a little costly.”

Assistant Chief Grissom said a lot of research and work went into both proposals.

“This is not something that we just think  would be nice to have,” he said. “This is a need.”



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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