Syringes kept in evidence for up to six months
March 29, 2002
A Carson City Sheriff’s Department’s policy not to test syringes doesn’t mean evidence is lost or people in possession of hypodermic needles filled with suspected drugs can escape justice, authorities said.
Lt. Ray Saylo said hypodermic needles booked into evidence with the department are routinely kept for at least six months, so although syringes aren’t automatically tested, the evidence is there to be analyzed at the request of a prosecutor.
Earlier this week, questions about the department’s policy came up after the District Attorney’s Office dismissed a charge of possession of methamphetamine because the needle was never tested for the drug — the only evidence of possession in the case.
Saylo said the ability to test the syringe existed; it was never requested by the DA’s office. “What happened here was they didn’t ask,” he said.
The Carson City laboratory is responsible for preliminary testing if it’s requested by the DA, but for conclusive testing, syringes are sent to the Washoe County Crime Lab.
Chief Deputy Scott Burau said his department’s policy is based on Washoe’s policy.
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“We have always followed the protocol of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab.” he said. “A lot of times there is other evidence that is there. All we are trying to say is unless we need the syringe, it won’t be tested.
“All we are doing is really putting to paper what has been occurring. The bottom line is we haven’t done anything but increased the safety. Testing all syringes is an unnecessary risk.”