The legacy of Oro Valley’s longstanding police chief was etched in stone last Wednesday morning when the town unveiled the Daniel G. Sharp Police Department Substation and Evidence Facility, located at 500 W. Magee Road.
Work on the 22,000 square-foot facility, built by Lloyd Construction and the Breckenridge Group and designed by Kyle Swanson of Arrington Watkins Architects. began after a groundbreaking ceremony 14 months ago. In addition to a second floor almost entirely dedicated to storing evidence, the substation will house space for victims’ services and mental health providers, booking and holding space, the K9 squad and Community Action Team, an office for the training coordinator, lab space and more.
Evidence is currently housed at the department’s main station, located at 11000 N. La Cañada Drive. Aside from a permanent home, the new facility also offers OVPD greatly improved evidence storage capabilities. Some evidence is currently stored in metal conex shipping containers, the interiors of which can reach well over 100 degrees during the day.
The Town of Oro Valley expanded to the south in 2003, at which time a commitment was made to operate a substation that would provide the police department with a brick and mortar presence in the town’s southern region. Over the years, the department has operated two other nearby locations. The new substation is the first of those town owns—the department previously rented space.
Before the Aug. 7 ribbon cutting ceremony, Sharp told a crowd of about 100 the opening of such a building was a longtime goal. The first inclusion of an evidence facility in the town’s capital improvement plan was back in 2001.
“Frankly, I didn’t know if I was going to see it in my career,” Sharp said. “I certainly didn’t expect to have my name on it. This has been quite an honor and a privilege.”
Once inside, the front lobby houses two office spaces and a conference room that acts both as a place to display evidence, as well as a location for officers to keep an eye on status offenders like runaway juveniles that can’t be in lockdown. The front entryway also has space for appointment-only drop off and pickup of evidence through a port in the front desk with thick, remote-locking doors.
Secure transportation of supervision of evidence is a theme throughout the facility, according to former deputy chief Lt. Aaron LeSuer, who was one of several officers that provided guests with detailed tours of the facility last week.
Officers dropping off evidence will do so in rooms with two doors, one forward-facing for the officers, and another only accessible by one of the department’s evidence technicians. Once the officers drop off whatever it is they have, their doors shut and evidence staff enter—maintaining a strict chain of custody.
Once evidence has been processed, it’s stored upstairs in a variety of specialized rooms, each requiring two entry cards to open. According to LeSuer, only evidence techs have access to those rooms. Even Chief Sharp requires an escort to access storage.
Downstairs, the facility has space for booking and interviews. While the substation is overwhelmingly dedicated to evidence storage, the space will also allow officers to process suspects when crimes occur on the southern end of town.
In March 2016, OVPD purchased the substation through a bank foreclosure firm for just $315,000, even though it was on the market for around $900,000. The build out cost roughly $6.1 million, paid in part through banked funds and $2 million in bonds.
While his name is on the front of the building, and he’s helmed the department for nearly 20 years, Sharp said the successes of the OVPD rest on the shoulders of every officer and staff member for their hard work and dedication to his community-policing model.
Sharp said he’s been told many times over the years that he makes the job look easy. He assured the crowd last Wednesday that isn’t the case, that it takes the hard work of his team to keep the community safe.
He thanked LeSuer, Ret. Cmdr. Charlie Lentner, Ret. Deputy Chief Larry Stevens and Oro Valley Director of Public Works and Engineer Paul Keesler by name for their contributions to the project over the years, and added that the department has supported him throughout his tenure.
“The men and women of the Oro Valley Police Department have just done a phenomenal job at providing service and making me look good over the years,” Sharp said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all that you’ve done and what you do for this community.”