Best Practices for Property and Evidence Room Management
Most police departments have an evidence room or large evidence storage facility. Keeping these rooms well maintained and orderly is not only integral to the internal operations of the police department but helps to ensure proper chain of custody. While the needs and financial resources vary for every department, below we’ll examine some common guidelines for property and evidence room management.
Step 1: Maintain a Secure Facility
Secure property and evidence rooms are critical to maintaining a chain of custody. Departments should have proper access controls to safeguard the items in storage and prevent unauthorized entry. Access card controls, alarms, surveillance cameras, access logs, and enhanced security areas are great tactics for property and evidence room security.
These measures provide necessary added security and protection for items such as currency, firearms, jewelry, and drugs.
Step 2: Sufficient and Qualified Personnel
Having enough staffing helps to ensure the integrity of chain of custody, the safe preservation of property and evidence, and the timely and legal disposition of property and evidence. Property and evidence room staff may be comprised of sworn officers or civilians, and specialized training should be provided.
Step 3: Develop and Implement a Policies and Procedures Manual
Developing and implementing a policies and procedural manual for property and evidence is essential to successful property and evidence room management. By developing and implementing policies and procedures for the proper handling and disposition of property and evidence, you establish standards of consistency and minimize the likelihood that agency personnel will need to rely on personal judgment while carrying out their duties.
Step 4: Dispose of Property and Evidence in a Timely and Legal Manner
When property and evidence rooms become overcrowded, the result is inefficiency and the potential loss, damage, or contamination of property and evidence. Having an evidence tracking system can increase the efficiency of retrieval efforts and help agencies to streamline the organization of their inventory. This ultimately helps to ensure appropriate and legal disposition of property and evidence, while securing the chain of custody.
Step 5: Perform Regular Reviews and Audits
Conducting regular reviews and audits will help law enforcement agencies determine whether policies and procedures for the property and evidence room are being followed consistently. Unannounced inspections, internal reviews, peer reviews, or audits by outside non-law enforcement organizations are all valuable for identifying any weaknesses in the current systems in place.
Bringing Secure Solutions
The PMI Evidence Tracker is integral to successful property and evidence room management. Our customizable software system helps law enforcement and legal professionals always track physical and digital evidence. We provide proprietary labels and unique bar codes to make the retrieval and organization process easier and more efficient than ever. Contact us today to learn more about how our software can help your department with its property and evidence room management!