County saves $3.4M on evidence building to be completed by end of 2018

Sheriff’s new forensic facility should be ready by the end of 2018


TULARE COUNTY – Those working in forensics and evidence for the Sheriff’s Department understand how even the smallest detail can make a huge difference in the success of a case. And when it comes to building those detail-oriented deputies a new facility, their counterparts in County administration try to do the same.

Supervisor Pete Vander Poel said an ad hoc committee, including himself, saved the County from paying double the amount budgeted for a project to build a new property and evidence facility for the Sheriff’s Department.  During a review of the designs for the project, Vander Poel said the committee noticed that much of $7 million price tag for the facility was due to a block wall required to have a facility certified for evidence storage. Upon closer inspection, the committee discovered that less expensive materials could be used for the outer wall of the facility. By adding additional perimeter security fencing and gates, the facility would still be certified for evidence storage.

“I think this shows the value in the ad hoc committee process,” Vander Poel said at the Dec. 5 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

The slight change in the plans allowed the county to save $3.4 million on the project after approving a bid for $3.6 million to Forcum Mackey construction. Supervisors originally authorized a budget of $3.3 million for the project in August 2016.

The Sheriff’s Department’s current facility is located in an outdated building which has been modified, repaired, and expanded numerous times but remains “compacted, substandard and beyond their serviceable life,” according to a staff report.

As part of the bid, the County will construct a 10,800 square foot evidence processing and storage facility and a two-bay garage for automotive storage and investigations. These will be in addition to an existing 6,000 square foot building on 1.3 acres of County-owned property at 1105 S. O St. in Tulare. That building will be remodeled and serve as the Sheriff’s forensic lab. The existing building is in good condition but the County will replace the roof and HVAC units as well as minor modifications to the interior and new furnishings, fixtures, and equipment. Minor improvements consist of ADA access improvements, public counter space, interior cubicles, and washing and shower space.

The project would also include buying and installing necessary technology equipment to process and analyze criminal evidence, where such existing equipment is outdated or unable to be relocated.

The facility’s estimated completion date is September 2018.

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