Evidence and property management policies | MassCops

Evidence and property management policies

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by 02136colonel, Dec 9, 2020.

  1. 02136colonel

    02136colonel Supporting Member

    I was recently assigned as the evidence officer for my department.
    Our evidence and property policies are being rewritten and I am researching best practices to develop a new, uniform policy for us to use.
    If anyone has copies of their department’s evidence policies and property policies that they would be willing to share, please pm me and I can send you my email address.
    Thanks in advance for any help
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2020
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  2. CCCSD

    CCCSD MassCops Member

    I’m sorry for your loss...
     
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  3. USM C-2

    USM C-2 MassCops Member

    Just from experience, evidence and property are the things nobody cares about, until there's a scandal and they look for someone to blame. Go into the job with a suspicious attitude, and take nothing for granted. If you haven't done so already, perform a 100% hands-on audit of EVERY SINGLE ITEM held in evidence or property. Have the entire thing witnessed as well. Document every discrepancy. Assume your predecessors have been lax. Assume your co-workers have been lazy and cut corners. Don't assume criminality, but be alert for signs of it. It happens. And when it happens, it often happens in property and evidence.

    Every year, minimum, audit a random sample of items - at least 100 of them, or ten percent of the total, whichever is larger. Then do a 100% hands-on audit again for every single gun, all the cash, and all the dope.

    Insist on strict adherence to evidence and property submission procedures, and complain in writing every single time they are not followed to the letter.

    Do everything you can to dispose of evidence and property no longer needed. Lots of stuff, lots of problems. Fewer stuff, fewer problems...

    One of two things will happen... either you will be considered such a pain in the ass you will rapidly be transferred out of there (good for you, bad sign for the agency) or you will be considered so valuable in that job for keeping the department out of the headlines ("Drugs worth millions missing from agency") that you will be there until you retire.

    Where, I might add, you will have a comfy chair, climate control, and nobody even remotely qualified (or motivated) to tell you how to do your job.
     
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  4. NEPS

    NEPS 75th N.H.P.A.

    I liked USM C-2's advice.
    That job is among the worst in law enforcement and it only keeps getting harder. In the last ten years agencies in Massachusetts have been required to keep evidence until the trial is over or appeal time frames are ended, but until the defendant has ended everything -- incarceration, parole, probation.
    And no one helps. You will tell officers to package different drugs separately, but they will all go in one plastic bag. You will find unmarked, untagged evidence stacked in front of the temporary lockers to give you an opportunity to exercise your detective skills inside your own station. You'll plead for computer entries to specify what evidence was seized and you will find officers more or less enter "stuff" in the property field. And wouldn't it be nice if the DA's office would ever simply tell you when a case has been disposed of so you can do something with the evidence and you don't have to BOP a hundred defendants to see where the case is? Wouldn't it be swell if the ADA standing up in court for the end of a small case would ask the judge for a drug destruction order or that the money seized in a possession with intent case be forfeited to the police department or ordered returned to the defendant?
    Join the International Association for Property & Evidence to help you understand the pitfalls that USM C-2 had not warned you about and get the ammunition to use in selling your superiors on the need to provide resources to the evidence function and apply sanctions to supervisors who will not make their officers follow evidence policies. I wish I had known about that organization during my sentence as evidence custodian.
     
  5. 02136colonel

    02136colonel Supporting Member

    Thank you guys so much for the insight. Definitely a lot of things to consider, and I like to think I’m going into this job with a healthy dose of suspicion but also some optimism that I can improve our processes, which have not been at the level they need to be. I think getting a strong policy in place, along with auditing the inventory, will be the two first steps.
    I’ll definitely join the International Association for Property and Evidence, and learn as much as I can. I feel like this job is a great opportunity but also a huge liability and I want to do everything I can to mitigate the liability.
    Thank you guys again, it’s good to hear from people who’ve done this before and I appreciate your insight
     
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  6. CCCSD

    CCCSD MassCops Member

    Take photos of before and after also.
     
    02136colonel likes this.

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