Proper evidence collection and handling is an integral part of proving a case and establishing a secure chain of custody. By using the proper evidence collection supplies and procedures, law enforcement agencies stay organized while also lessening the risk of evidence tampering and maintaining credibility. While the exact collection and handling procedures may vary for every case, below we’ll examine some tips for proper evidence collection and handling.
1. Document Every Scene Using Photography
Before evidence can be collected, a crime scene must be properly documented. Video footage and detailed photographs should be produced that show the overall views of the scene, as well as close-ups of evidence. It’s important to capture an overlapping series of photographs that show the general location and exterior of the crime scene, possible areas of entry or exit, and the position of any victims or damaged property (as in the case of robbery or home invasion for example). Photos should also be taken using the proper evidence collection supplies, such as proper markers and objects for scale.
2. Produce a Diagram of Every Scene
In addition to photography and videography, every crime scene should be diagrammed. This is helpful in the event that a crime scene needs to be recreated. Teams should produce detailed measured diagrams of each crime scene, depicting floor plans and the spatial relationship between items of evidence and the victims and any reference points.
3. Always Use the Proper Evidence Collection Supplies
It’s important to avoid cross-contamination while handling evidence. Using disposable gloves, tweezers, scalpels or other evidence collection supplies will ensure that you maintain the integrity of all evidence.
4. Use Collection Methods That Ensure Chain of Custody
All evidence and property should be properly tagged, and it’s important for consistent labeling practices to be adhered to at all times. Proper evidence labeling should typically include a full description of the item, police case numbers, date of retrieval, location of collection, serial numbers, and the collector’s name, rank, and badge number.
5. Use an Evidence Tracking System
Correct handling of evidence doesn’t stop when it arrives at the Property & Evidence Room. Evidence must be correctly checked in and assigned to a shelf. In order to maintain chain of custody, evidence must also be correctly checked out any time it needs to leave the P&E room. Evidence must also be periodically inventoried and, when it is no longer needed, purged. Using a dedicated system for evidence tracking is key to managing these tasks.
PMI Evidence Tracker: A Complete Evidence Tracking System
PMI Evidence Tracker is a complete evidence tracking system capable of assisting you with all of your evidence collection and handling needs. Our complete solution features a customizable software that ensures efficient and streamlined evidence in-processing, retrieval, check out, inventory, and purging.
PMI Evidence Tracker also features a complete labeling system to assist with streamlined evidence collection. Users can print evidence labels directly from the software program. These proprietary labels allow each piece of evidence to be correctly documented and assigned a unique bar code identification number as soon as it is found.
Law enforcement professionals across the country trust PMI Evidence Tracker to assist them with proper evidence collection, handling, and tracking. When you choose our system to help you manage your evidence, you’ll wonder how you managed before. Contact us today to learn more about PMI Evidence Tracker can help your department!