CANTON — Michael Spivey's job is sort of like cleaning and organizing a cluttered basement — every day.
One of Stark County Sheriff George Maier's deputies, Spivey is in charge of property and evidence. That means he handles, logs, tracks and stores just about every item deputies and investigators bring back to the office in the course of their duties.
That includes everything from a recovered bicycle to a gun that was used in a homicide.
"I didn't know this job would fit me," said the 43-year-old Spivey, who's taken in 8,300 items in his almost three years in the role. "But I found out I am a little (obsessive-compulsive)."
The trait is practically a requirement.
"I don't want to be the guy who's responsible for losing a homicide case on a technicality," said Spivey, explaining how items are tagged, logged and tracked for a chain of custody trail.
Part of his job, though, is getting rid of stuff.
Evidence envelopes full of marijuana, shotguns, rifles, a machete, about 75 bicycles of all sizes and colors, an industrial-sized socket set, part of an ATM machine, power washers and power saws, a safe, car keys, beer cans, a softball bat, tennis racquet, TVs, sunglasses, towels, clothes and even adult toys.
It's an ongoing process.
Spivey is in the midst of legally purging a collection of items stored in several locations at the sheriff's office on Atlantic Boulevard NE. It began with placing a legal classified ad in the newspaper, which appeared last week and again on Friday.
In part, it reads: The Stark County Sheriff's Office has various lawn equipment, firearms, jewelry, tools, money, vehicles, miscellaneous personal property, electronics, and bicycles recovered between 1985 and 2017 that have been retained as evidence or recovered property and is no longer needed for Law Enforcement purposes.
It goes on to state the rightful owner can claim an item by providing proof of ownership. That proof can be anything from a sales receipt or serial number to a family photo that contains an image of the item. And the owner has 30 days from Friday — though Spivey said there is some wiggle room — to claim an item.
The process is outlined in Ohio law. Seized drugs and firearms used in crimes will be incinerated — Spivey said he's melted more than 1,000 guns in three years. After the 30-day window expires, he'll ask a Stark County Common Pleas judge to issue an order, allowing him to dispose of the property. At that point, unclaimed items will be sorted into two categories, one for trash, the other for a future auction.
Although, the sheriff's office is only required to keep recovered property, such as bicycles or anything else found and turned in, for 90 days, Spivey said most stuff is kept until he runs out of storage space.
Case evidence typically can be destroyed after someone is convicted and legal appeals are exhausted. Homicide has no statute of limitations, so evidence in those unsolved cases is kept and stored forever.
Unsolved crime evidence can be purged after the legal statute of limitations for prosecution have run their course.
For example, in a rape case that's 25 years; for burglary it's 20 years; other felonies are six years; misdemeanors are just two years and minor misdemeanors six months.