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Evidence Rooms

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  • Evidence Rooms

    My organization is currently upgrading and renovating our current fire evidence room. One of the primary upgrades was the security of the room itself. We installed a caged area to provide two levels of security and provided individual evidence lockers while limiting access to the storage area.

    Our biggest dilemma seems to be going through mounds of evidence that we currently have in storage. Along with help from our Assistant District Attorney, we are filtering through this evidence and trying to determine what to keep and what to discard. We would like come up with better procedures on how to decide what items should be kept.

    Does evidence that comes back "negative" from the lab need to be saved? Does anyone have any thoughts or comments to share on this?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    You cannot break chain of custody for one. Can fry a good case if some hotshot PD can find issues with tampering of the evidence.

    Personally, before I tossed anything I would get a DA's rep in the boat with you. They can tell you what cases are active/inactive, needs be to retained for whatever reason or have been resolved and cab be disposed of. Even a negative result may nean something.

    I would also document anything I did happen to toss such as the case # and an inventory of the evidence contents, maybe even pictures.

    Again, I would discuss it w/ a DA before anything is canned.

    Be safe, R2

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    • #3
      Getting the prosecuting attorney's guidance is a good first step. I would be surprised if they did not have a uniform policy for law enforcement to follow.

      Secondly, consistency is what you are shooting for. You want to make sure that it doesn't appear that you are selectively keeping some evidence and not other evidence unless you are following a policy that has been adopted b by your agency.

      As far as negative evidence samples, you may not be able to get rid of them all. A negative sample may actually support an investigator's theory on a case. For example, if the investigator is alleging that the fire was intentionally set with the use of ordinary combustibles, a negative sample would support that finding.

      The place I would start with your evidence is getting rid of any evidence from cases where the statute of limitations has expired and there cannot be charges. After that, I would get rid of stuff from cases that have already been adjudicated. (CAUTION: Make sure you keep evidence on guilty cases until after the time expires for all appeals).

      Let me give you one piece of advice for evidence management. Seriously look into a computer-based bar code system. It's just like the supermarket. It will save gobs of time down the road.

      Good luck on your project.
      PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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