Are you a sheriff or police chief whose agency needs more space in your aging evidence room? Are your access control, video, or alarm systems draining that maintenance line item of your budget? What about the HVAC system? Is it providing the varying temperature and humidity levels required for proper evidence preservation? Should we even mention the OSHA requirements regarding ventilation in areas holding biological evidence?

We’ll leave the answers to you. But has the thought of building a new evidence room crossed your mind? Let’s discuss the challenges and costs of new evidence room construction.

Evidence Room Operations

Evidence management is a complex world governed by state and federal laws, standards, regulations, and best practices. Evidence rooms provide, and critical aspects of their operation include:

  • Secure Evidence Storage
    • The very baseline requirement. Evidence must be stored securely in an access-controlled facility.
  • Proper Preservation
    • Many types of evidence require special storage conditions. Evidence rooms should provide environments that will preserve any evidence in their inventories.
  • Chain of Custody
    • Keeping an unbroken chain of custody record is a requirement for the item’s admissibility in court
  • Accessibility
    • Evidence must remain accessible to be sent out for testing and to the investigators working on the case.
  • Legal Compliance
    • Any law enforcement employee who handles evidence must adhere to the many regulations of evidence management. Unfortunately, this compliance can be hindered by the physical inadequacies of the evidence room and its infrastructure.

There are many systems, procedures, and other aspects of evidence management woven throughout the items mentioned above, and all will be necessary components – and challenges – in the construction of a new evidence room. Let’s take a look at a few of them.


1. Budget Constraints 

We start with this challenge because it is the biggest one for any department. Acquiring the funding necessary for new construction or even remodeling of an evidence room, while possible, may take years of planning to come to fruition. Cost considerations include architectural planning, construction, security systems, HVAC, updated computer systems, software, shelving, refrigeration, freezers, and potentially, additional personnel costs to staff the new facility.

2. Facility Design

While most experienced evidence room personnel could tell you the basic design and equipment requirements for a new evidence room, the devil is in the details. Some considerations include the types of evidence stored there, the separate interior environments required for preservation, the security systems needed (access control, alarms, video), and more. If new construction is on the table, the decision-makers would be well-advised to hire an expert consultant to help with the details and costs involved.

3.  Space Considerations

A simple question first. Do you have the space available for new construction? If the answer is no, rebuilding your evidence room, even with all the modern bells and whistles, may leave you with a facility needing more space for the volume of evidence you have on hand – from the get-go. An option is to build up, if possible, but that would significantly increase the overall cost.

4. Legal Compliance

Any new facility must comply with the applicable federal, state, and local laws and evidence management requirements. These mandatory costs will make your construction more complex and add significantly to its cost.

This is by no means a detailed list of the challenges involved in constructing a new evidence room, but it’s a start – if you are thinking about the possibility.


The cost of constructing a new evidence room would vary widely depending on your department’s location, planned size, agency-specific needs, permit requirements, consultant’s and architect’s fees, materials, and construction costs, among many other factors. A loose estimate would be at least half a million dollars or more.

An Option

There is another option for law enforcement executives to consider. Reputable private companies are offering long-term evidence storage and preservation services. These companies provide real solutions to police agencies grappling with evidence whose volume overwhelms their capacity to store it properly. Private providers have demonstrated their ability to store evidence while adhering to the requirements and regulations of the industry. They scale their services depending on a particular agency’s needs – proving them to be a cost-effective option compared to new construction.


Building a new evidence room is a complex and very costly project. There are many pieces to the construction puzzle, and some to consider are budget constraints, facility design, legal compliance, and the space available for construction. The overall construction cost would prohibit most departments across the country from ever turning a shovel on such a project. There is an option for law enforcement leaders to consider, however. The private sector offers solutions to agencies struggling with inefficient evidence room operations at a fraction of the cost of building a new evidence room.


Fortress Plus Solutions provides safe, secure, documented transportation, handling, and storage of evidence and property for the long term. If your items require special storage conditions – we provide that. In addition, we offer evidence room audits to help law enforcement maintain best practices and accurate and up-to-date inventory records. In our blog, we post informative articles about privatized long-term storage and the auditing process. To learn more about our services, click here.