Paper-Based vs. Electronic Evidence Tracking

February 17, 2020 Natalie Dunlap

The use of pen and paper is as old as the beginning of time, but that doesn’t mean your evidence tracking should be. Writing things down can be satisfying, but should be left for letters or to-do lists, not keeping tabs on key pieces of evidence in a criminal trial. New technologies have grown and developed that have had a significant impact on our society—technologies that allow you to streamline your work and significantly reduce errors. So why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that? Let’s look at paper-based vs. electronic evidence tracking.

The Case Against Paper-Based Evidence Tracking

Besides the fact that paper-based evidence tracking is outdated, there are many other reasons why you should make the switch to electronic evidence tracking. Although starting a fresh chain of custody log and running off a stack of evidence forms on the copier can seem like the easiest option to get your evidence organized, it can quickly become a headache when it comes to keeping up with the ongoing workload of evidence tracking.

• Illegible or Incomplete Entries

Let’s start with an example: if officers are in a rush, they may jot down something as quickly as possible, so they can move onto the next task. This example alone brings at least 2 problems. When you are in a rush, penmanship gets thrown out the window. It can be impossible to try to figure out what someone else has written—leaving the interpretation up to the reader. Officers can become less detailed or accurate about the evidence they are submitting, leaving questions unanswered.

• Forms Are Subject to Getting Destroyed or Lost

Now, let’s examine the process of paper-based evidence tracking after an officer has submitted the evidence. Once a piece of evidence gets logged in, that same piece of paper will have more notes scribbled on it or copied to additional pages. As the form passes between hands through the process, there is most likely a coffee or food stain on it and some rip, tear or fold. That’s if it hasn’t gotten lost in the process.

• Taking Up Space and Slowing Down Inventory

Once log pages get filled or evidence forms are no longer needed, then it becomes time to store them—along with the hundreds, if not thousands, of other papers. This takes up more and more space in your storage room that could be used by evidence. Not to mention, when you need to take inventory, it could take days.

Benefits of Evidence Tracking Software

If you’re not yet convinced paper-based evidence tracking is a thing of the past, let’s list out some of the best benefits of electronic evidence tracking software:

• Legible, Complete, Searchable Information

Let’s go back and review our first example. If officers are in a rush when submitting their evidence, rather than scribbling a couple of illegible lines on a piece of paper, they’ll have an easy form to complete electronically. This eliminates writing and interpretation errors. Your department will be also able to collect more data and information regarding the evidence, for which you can run different reports and searches.

• Easy Inventory, and Space-Savings

When it comes to storage, the system only gets easier. Each file is organized neatly with your electronic tracking system with no chance of getting damaged or lost. Electronic evidence tracking also makes a world of difference when taking inventory, organizing your storage room, and managing past cases when an officer leaves the department.

• Reduce Errors and Save Time

By upgrading your system to an electronic evidence tracking software, you’ll decrease errors and processing time, so your officers will have more time servicing their community. A clear line of custody will be available to protect your department and officers.

PMI Evidence Tracking Software

Save yourself from the headache of paper-based evidence tracking and start using electronic evidence tracking! You’ll save time, money, stress, and significantly lower the number of errors. Electronic evidence tracking is the only method that will be able to stand the test of time for your department’s needs. With our seamless electronic process, your department will be aware of all evidence entering or leaving the evidence room, and any activity or updates on any files.

With PMI Evidence Tracker, we provide a simple solution to a complex problem at an affordable price. Our system is designed by Cops for Cops! We provide the complete system you need to overhaul your evidence tracking process. To learn about how PMI Evidence Tracker can help your department, contact us today!