Sheriff’s office filling new space with modern tools
Once home to a newspaper, the building at 201 N. Rock Island is now a state-of-the-art investigation and training center for the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office. It’s known as the annex.
“We are the fastest growing county in the state, it’s not slowing down,” Undersheriff Chris West said. “We can’t get stagnant, that’s why it’s important for us to be using the latest state-of-the-art technology.”
West is scheduled to be sworn in as sheriff in January. He will take the place of Randall Edwards, who chose not to run after serving two terms.
The annex includes two interview rooms with total surveillance, a computer crimes and electronic forensic unit, evidence storage, a kitchen, IT office, a cutting-edge training classroom and several offices and restrooms. West said the remodel project cost approximately $150,000 and was paid from sheriff’s service fees, fingerprint fees, seized drug money and other non-reoccurring funds.
Sgt. Jerry Hendrick uses his skills as an accident investigator to develop crime scenes using computer software and collects data for prosecution. He said the technology inside the annex is an invaluable tool for the department.
Work is still under way on an evidence processing room which will be unlike any other in the area, the lawmen said. The processing room will take in technical evidence, like DNA for example, and prepare it for shipment to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations. With a separate air system, the room is designed to ensure no cross-contamination occurs to evidence.
“Agencies of these sizes usually don’t have these facilities,” Hendrick said. “By doing this, we are preparing ourselves for 20 years down the road.”
Capt. Kevin Ward heads the investigations division, which was once confined to the basement area of the county administrative building. With the additional space and technology, Ward, who West named to serve as his undersheriff, said the investigations division excels in the state in its computer crimes unit, which ultimately can lead to catching online predators.
Lt. Adam Flowers spends his work days obtaining digital evidence from cell phones, computers and tablets. Flowers said he examines 10 cell phones a week on average. Other agencies often call upon the Canadian County investigations for assistance because of their top of the line computer crimes unit.
Due to limited space, training of reserve deputies and full-time law enforcement had to be performed in other locations, costing the department time and money. Training Division Supervisor Lt. Mike Patswald said the new spacious classroom and its technological advances provide better training opportunities for the department.
Full-time officers are required to participate in seven, 30-hour continuing training sessions each year. The sheriff’s department also hosts a reserve academy each year that includes 240 hours of training.
Construction on the annex project first began in 2013 with the assistance of master builder Dan Jackson. With the help of trustees from the Prisoner Public Works program, skilled workers were able to help build cabinets and provide plumbing and electrician services.
Officials estimate construction on the annex will not be completed for another six months to a year. The location of the sheriff’s offices at 208 W. Rogers will continue to house administration, records, dispatch, patrol, and the office’s civil division.