The Most Important Role of an Evidence Custodian

Storing and preserving evidence is one of the most important duties of an evidence custodian. Once an officer brings in evidence, the evidence custodian must properly log it, mark its location within the storage room, and keep it protected from degradation. Evidence is essential to a case because it supports the witnesses’ case and can lead to the arrest of a suspect- which means it must be protected at all costs to be appropriately presented for trial. 

However, being responsible for all types of evidence, which can consist of any object—including hazardous ones—can be incredibly difficult without the proper tools and system in place. Here is what you need to know about the crucial responsibilities that evidence custodians must fulfill:

Logging the Evidence

Evidence custodians are given the task of logging evidence, facilitating movement, and arranging for storage or disposition. However, given the sheer scope of their responsibilities, it is almost impossible for them to monitor each piece of evidence’s history, which means officers must step in to supply such information. For this reason, the initial documentation, packaging, and submission of evidence fall under the collecting officer’s duties. It is also best for this same officer to be the administrative owner of the evidence, so they are well aware of the success rate of their cases. 

Still, the evidence custodian must track the length of time the evidence was kept in custody while securing the evidence room. Since they are in charge of storing the evidence, they also play a pivotal role in responding to questions from various parties, such as law enforcement personnel, court officials, lawyers, and the evidence owners. Sometimes, the evidence custodian can provide instruction to these parties when they need to access the evidence. Other times, evidence custodians are even summoned to court to testify about the evidence, which can make or break the case.

Releasing and Disposing of Evidence

Custodians must also fulfill requests for evidence from other parties, including holding onto request records and logs of when someone borrowed the evidence and when they returned it. They are expected to know everything about the proper chain-of-custody and laws on releasing evidence to the right parties.

When a piece of evidence is no longer needed, evidence custodians are responsible for the proper disposal of it. However, they will need supporting documentation regarding the official decision to dispose of it- ensuring it complies with the agency’s policy and protocols. Strictly adhering to these rules ensures that crucial evidence is never accidentally tossed out, which can completely derail a case. If the evidence remains unclaimed or its owner passes away, the custodian will then be in charge of selling the item at an auction or disposing of it entirely.

How an Evidence Tracking System Can Help 

Before the advent of technology, officers would simply fill out a form, put evidence into a plastic box, store it inside the evidence locker, and close the door on it. Evidence custodians would then take the items, package them, label them appropriately, and assign a clerk to enter the information into a computer. However, this is a long and tedious process that can severely delay a case, which is where an evidence tracking system steps into the picture.

If you have been hoping to improve the evidence logging process, an evidence tracking software can enhance and expedite the process immensely. You can enter new information about the evidence you collect directly into the computer, storing it in a database that authorized people can access at any time. This will bypass the time-consuming steps you previously took, improving your evidence management and overall agency efficiency. It also prevents officers from arbitrarily keeping evidence without a legitimate reason.

An Evidence Tracking System That Works

Evidence tracking is one of the most critical responsibilities of an evidence custodian, which can be made much easier with an evidence tracking system. It automates much of the tedious and ineffective paper trail involved in logging evidence, helping your agency perform its tasks in a swift manner. By using our evidence tracking system in your agency, your evidence custodians will be successful in the due diligence of their roles.

PMI Evidence Tracker is a powerful evidence management tool that provides law enforcement agencies with effective, affordable, and flexible systems that make evidence tracking and handling hassle-free and secure. Check out our plans today!