How Should A Police Evidence Room Be Designed?
No matter where you are in the world, criminal justice systems are composed of a multitude of complex factors. One of the most critical factors is evidence. The way evidence gets handled can make all the difference between the solving of a case or its dissolution.
It stands to reason that evidence management should be a priority for every single case. That is why the evidence storage room should be more than just a stockroom. In some cases, it’s referred to as a property room, but it all boils down to the same thing- both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s sides hinge on evidence being properly taken care of.
How Should a Police Evidence Room Be Designed?
There are certain guidelines that apply to the evidence room. As previously mentioned, the evidence room plays a critical part in nearly all cases. As such, it’s key for police departments to not just maintain evidence, but also be able to track them easily.
- Consider Not Just the Location but Also the Adjacencies
To begin with, you need to determine the location of the evidence storage room. Consider the workflow of handling evidence pieces when making the final choice for a location. Evidence management starts when the item or items get dropped off by officers at a secure, temporary place. Officers can typically go to and from an evidence deposit room any time of day, any day of the week.
After the drop-off happens, it’s only the property officer that can have access to the evidence. This person is in charge of the maintenance and operation of the items. The property officer usually keeps things in the evidence storage room, which is typically where the evidence will be for most of its lifespan. Security and efficiency are critical when evidence is being transferred. Ideally, this is why the evidence deposit room should be strategically located adjacent to the evidence storage room.
- Don’t Overlook the Walls
It’s crucial that an evidence storage room has sturdy walls upon construction. This is so that break-ins will be fended off and prevented. Blocks with concrete cores are ideal, but if that’s not available, a solid block does the job as well. A keystone of evidence management includes ensuring the storage room is secure.
Avoid using drywall, stud partitions, and/or gypsum boards since they cave easily when brute force is applied. Should it be unavoidable to use studs and gypsum board, then a security mesh needs to be installed in the middle.
Ensure there is no void along the wall, whether on top or below, where unscrupulous persons can access it. Make sure to cover all the bases, including the holes which have ducts running through. Security mesh will make a huge difference in security.
- Ensure the HVAC Is Working Properly
Items can get destroyed in extreme temperatures, and evidence is no exception. When building an evidence room, make sure that the HVAC system is working in top condition. Air temperature should not go above 75 degrees and relative humidity should be within 60% to retain the quality of evidence. Take note that other pieces of evidence must be refrigerated as part of evidence management.
For a drug storage room, there must be a ventilation system in place to prevent fumes and harmful substances from remaining inside the facility. The HVAC system should also be a negative-pressure system.
Securing Justice Through Proper Evidence Management
Evidence can make or break a case at any point- one of the vital parts of this includes the evidence storage room. It needs to be secure, strategically located, have walls that are near-impenetrable, and a reliable HVAC system in place.
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