A storage shortage has plagued the Greene County Sheriff’s Office for years.

In the latest move to help alleviate the problem, the Greene County Commission is considering buying and renovating the former Sutherlands property in northeast Springfield, in part, to house sheriff’s office vehicles and evidence.

Sheriff Jim Arnott told the News-Leader some specialty vehicles, such as a crime scene unit, mobile command post, SWAT vehicles and prisoner transport buses, are kept at locations across the county — some sitting out in uncovered lots.

Evidence, including DNA samples that state statutes require the sheriff’s office to keep forever, continue to stockpile at five different locations, Arnott said.

Arnott hopes keeping the vehicles and evidence at a central location could improve ease of access, security and temperature control.

“When you spend $100,000 on a specialty vehicle and leave it sitting in a lot without temperature control, that’s not good on our investment,” Arnott said.

Sutherlands, a hardware store, moved out of a previous location at 3148 E. Chestnut Expressway in the spring of 2016.

It was one of two businesses to vacate property in connection with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s construction of a railroad overpass in the area.

Aurora Sutherlands Assistant Manager Luke Lawrence told the News-Leader on Thursday the store is scheduled to open at a new Springfield location at 1464 S. Glenstone Ave. later this summer.

County Budget Officer Jeff Scott said the former Sutherlands property is now owned by the Missouri Department of Transporation and is being leased to Greene County for $200,000 a year.

About 60 percent of the lease cost is covered by revenue from a law enforcement sales tax and the rest is paid for by the county highway department, Scott said.

Part of the property, Scott said, would be used by the highway department for salt storage.

The county is in the process of looking at renovation plans and costs.

Arnott said the county needs to make sure the concrete floor is thick enough to support the vehicles he would like to store in the building.

By Alissa Zhu | Springfield News-Leader