Rare insight into police evidence room
DETAILS about the exhibit room at Tweed Heads Police Station where staff collect vital evidence have been released for the first time by a retiring officer.
The unique insight was given by Senior Constable Mark Ellison, who was given a touching farewell at the station last Thursday, as he bade farewell to his job of 36 years.
Snr Const Ellison, who first joined the NSW Police Force in 1980, serving in Sydney for nine years before moving to the Tweed, gave unique insight into his role as an exhibit curator.
Sitting in the Tweed exhibit room, where two shipping containers of at least 4000 exhibits are kept under lock and key and manned by two staff, Snr Const Ellison said his pending departure felt surreal, saying he would miss his Tweed police colleagues and dealing with the outcomes of crime the most.
"I love it, processing it, getting rid of it. Disposing of firearms, weapons and drugs, that's our biggest problem at the moment. It's hard to believe that they're our biggest bugbears," he said.
"I will miss the people I work with.
"We audit the shipping containers twice a year but in some cases they're held up, and taking their natural course in court can take 12 months."
Snr Const Ellison revealed Tweed police seized and destroyed more drugs in one month than some other NSW local area commands did in a year, sending 500 exhibits to Sydney for destruction last month alone - most of the drugs seized at music festivals.
"In here at the moment we've got 300 drug exhibits, down from 1000 from Splendour (in the Grass Music Festival) but there's usually about 300 to 400, and they're usually court order-destroyed," he said.
Sex toys, consumed drugs and jewels have been among some of the more interesting exhibits Snr Const Ellison has had to file, while a simple fridge contains the biological evidence kits of rape cases for up to two years, depending on how the cases progress.
"Each exhibit is in a separate drug bag, one tablet or 100 or 200 tablets, the same amount of paperwork is involved and it's all important," he said.
"As far as we're concerned, we have to send it to Sydney, if you're over a certain amount it will affect what court you appear in."
Snr Const Ellison said he loved his job, explaining every exhibit found at a crime scene was of vital importance, including unusual discoveries such as rocks used in assaults.
But he stressed he'd never been tempted to try any of the exhibits, revealing one of the downsides of the job was the all-pervasive smell of marijuana in his clothing after he'd left the office.
"These people don't know what they've brought, what they're taking," he said, referring to street drugs.
"It's not like on TV. We go to the labs where they make them and they're the pits of people and there's nothing scientific about the way they mix it, it's all trial and error."
He said Tweed police were looking forward to new facilities when the new station opened next year.