IMPD evidence room undergoes changes after Bisard blood removed


Glaring problems in the police evidence room came to light last year in the midst of the Officer David Bisard Case.

Those problems threatened the prosecution against the officer.

13 Investigates takes you deep inside the evidence room to show you what changes need to take place.

Frustration boiled over in April 2012 after the mayor and public safety leaders made a troubling find.

"This incident was strictly in the property room, several layers of leadership that I think should have seen this," said Mayor Greg Ballard with disgust.

Critical blood evidence from a deadly drunk driving case against Officer David Bisard was mistakenly removed from a refrigeration unit in the IMPD property room and transferred to storage. It sat unrefrigerated from mid November 2011 to April 16th.

Police Chief Paul Ciesielski stepped down and the FBI stepped in to investigate.

But the only culprit found was outdated and poorly constructed property room guidelines.

"We have some holes in some of our capabilities and we just need to fix them," said Ballard.

Now, nine months after the embarrassing discovery, 13 Investigates and its cameras venture inside the property room for a rare look at how evidence in some of the city's worst and highest profile cases are now stored.

There are limits to what we can show you, but the message from Valerie Washington and the new Public Safety Director's office is clear.

"We take this very seriously. After the Bisard issue we took a good close look at the processes down here and we're really trying to make sure we're doing things to the letter of the law," said Washington.

Rows and rows of boxed evidence have come under review by an independent audit team. They're trying to come up with efficient ways to store and protect evidence of all kinds, including blood.

David Bisard's vials were removed from a crowded refrigeration unit to make room for newer cases. The outside packaging label had no warnings. Inside the packaging, Bisard's vial was properly marked with an assigned case number.

"We had capacity issues with our refrigerators and we've identified that and we're on our way to purchasing more," revealed Washington, who says the Bisard case is the only one that's been legally challenged.

Still, the city doesn't want to take any chances of having critical evidence tossed out, or cases lost due to outdated guidelines.

"We'll segregate all murder evidence into one place, all drug evidence in a specific place, and we think that by having a segregated place for each case type, it will allow us to track better," Washington explained.

New refrigeration units being ordered for the property room will have warning bells and calibration to ensure proper handling.

The audit team is expected to present a full list of recommendations by the end of February.

The Marion County Prosecutor's office said, "We are very encouraged by the steps the Department of Public Safety is taking to review its protocols and procedures."

Meanwhile, the vial of blood in question in David Bisard's case is set to undergo forensic analysis before he goes to trial. Judge Grant Hawkins is expected to announce the location of that trial also in February.