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Evidence Custodians: I NEED HELP!!!

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  • Evidence Custodians: I NEED HELP!!!

    I just started with a new department. I work the road, and i'm the evidence custodian. Our department is small, and has had a lot of turnover. I believe there has been about 15 or 20 different evidence custodians since 1997. All I was handed was a key to the evidence hold, evidence locker, and a log book. APPARENTLY until the first of this year NOBODY has ever completed an evidence receipt / property log. All they have done is write the information on the evidence bag or tag. Chain of custody hasn't been maintained really well on anything in there either. I need some advice from someone who's done this for a while on what to do. I dunno if I can make a couple bin locations for the stuff that came in before I started, and just keep everything up to date on the new evidence, or if I need to some way log everything that's already in there. If there's anyone reading this who's been an evidence custodian for a while and can help me, I would REALLY like to speak with you. You can send me a private message on here with contact info, or I can give u mine.

    Thanks in advance!!

  • #2
    Here's a place to start: International Association for Property and Evidence

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Seventy2002 View Post
      A. A real good place to start....

      B. DO NOT DESTROY ANYTHING!!! In MO you need a Court Order....get with your local Judge and PA talk to them.......

      C. I would get with your County SO and/or MSHP and ask for help as well.... I would leand towards MSHP out of Troop C HQ......(636) 300-2800. I know an LT there if you need assistance..... Great guy and shouldn't have any issues helping you guys out....

      PM me for more info if you need it....
      Last edited by Bearcat357; 02-06-2010, 08:19 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thx

        Thanks for the feedback. I'll check out the website, and I know a cpl SGT's from here in Park Hills i'll get with them on Monday!

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        • #5
          That website is excellent. I damn sure don't envy you. We have three fulltime evidence custodians and they are marvelous! (I know where my bread is buttered, thankyewveramuch) We must label all bags and complete property sheet. Money, drugs and guns are never packaged together (duh, I know) and they aren't stored together. Guns are stored with slides locked to the rear and one of those plastic zipper thingys run through it to hold it open. Same for revolvers, etc. Money is counted and re-counted...signed by two. More than $500 and the evidence custodian on call comes out to take it from you so it's not stored in the locker over night or over the weekend. Large amounts of narcotics are handled the same as is anything too large for the lockers We have 30 some that open to a hallway. You put your stuff in and padlock it. It cannot be opened by anyone other than the custodian. Officers also enter their property into the computer. If you don't get it right, they don't accept it from you. You [Officer] correct your own mistakes.

          Officers are also responsible for getting the court dispositions to destroy evidence. We're responsible for contacting owners and telling them to come get their stuff. They have two weeks before it's destroyed (pending some exigent circs).

          I could go on and on. Our evidence custodians are the BEST.
          sigpic

          I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by acidbern View Post
            Thanks for the feedback. I'll check out the website, and I know a cpl SGT's from here in Park Hills i'll get with them on Monday!
            You might want to get with the Patrol and get their opinion as well....as they will be the one investigating you if something comes missing....

            Let me know if you want a POC..... As stated, I know a LT there that is a good dude....

            Comment


            • #7
              First of all, you need to do an immediate change of custodian audit and inventory of every evidence item in the evidence room to establish what was there when you took over.

              Granted this may be a full time job for a month, but it is essential to cover your butt. If no one has kept track of things, sooner or later something will come up unaccounted for, either through theft or poor accounting practices. You need to establish that it didn't happen on your watch by showing what was and was not present when you took over.

              Othewise you could find yourself one day is the crosshairs of an investigation for missing drugs, money or guns that you know nothing about because you failed to do a change of custodian inventory.
              Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bearcat357 View Post
                You might want to get with the Patrol and get their opinion as well....as they will be the one investigating you if something comes missing....

                Let me know if you want a POC..... As stated, I know a LT there that is a good dude....
                I meant I know a Cpl Sgt's from the Troop C Sattelite Office here in Park Hills I'll be trying to line something out this week. I have a feeling this is gonna be a major project

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by acidbern View Post
                  I meant I know a Cpl Sgt's from the Troop C Sattelite Office here in Park Hills I'll be trying to line something out this week. I have a feeling this is gonna be a major project
                  Ah....got you.... And yes, it is going to be a major project....

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by acidbern View Post
                    I have a feeling this is gonna be a major project
                    You have a "feeling?"


                    ROFL.

                    Yeah. That's a serious understatement.

                    I also agree with L1, better CYA and find out what's already there.
                    sigpic

                    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Good luck.

                      I was in a similar position, got the evidence room "thrust" upon me 10 years ago. It was in a state of disarray then and while better now it is only in a bit less of such a state now.

                      The first thing I did was obtain a court order to dispose of almost all the evidence in the room, some dating back 20 years. All that was kept was stuff for open cases.

                      I then issued a memo to everyone explaining what evidence is. Nothing clogs your room more than non-evidence seized by idiot officers. A unopened case of beer taken off a DUI is not evidence. A child's ball found in the street is not "found property for safekeeping". Neither is a found bicycle. Leave that crap outta my room!

                      I then began to catalog all new evidence in a new way - numerical order in the bins based on case number made it easier to locate. The previous method was to put similar things with each other. Drugs went with drugs. Guns went with guns. Hard to find all the components for a case if you have to look in 5 places and review the report to confirm what all was taken.

                      I said above the room is still in some disarray, and it is. I never actually maintained a log (I know, I know). I kept copies of the evidence slips which I guess could constitute a log, but I was busy with patrol and investigative functions and designing and implementing a log wasn't high on my list. I did finally get off my butt in 2009 and implemented a log, but only for new evidence taken 2009 and later. Pre-2009 stuff wasn't logged in an official format.

                      Being the evidence custodian sucked. One of the happiest moments of my professional life was realizing that when I left that agency I no longer had that responsibility.
                      "No matter how much you love this job, it'll never love you back. No matter how much you sacrifice, politically-driven administrators will throw good guys to the wolves to keep control over as many people as they can." -SPDSNYPR

                      "You're a cop because you don't know how not to be one. If you feel that way, you're a cop. If you don't, you're not. You decide." -John Cooper, SouthLAnd

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MeefZah View Post
                        I then issued a memo to everyone explaining what evidence is. Nothing clogs your room more than non-evidence seized by idiot officers. A unopened case of beer taken off a DUI is not evidence. A child's ball found in the street is not "found property for safekeeping". Neither is a found bicycle. Leave that crap outta my room!
                        Bingo..... No need for it. Beer....take a sample of it and photograph what was left over and ditch the rest...... Ball? Toss back in the yard... Bike goes back in the yard as well....

                        Originally posted by MeefZah View Post
                        I then began to catalog all new evidence in a new way - numerical order in the bins based on case number made it easier to locate. The previous method was to put similar things with each other. Drugs went with drugs. Guns went with guns. Hard to find all the components for a case if you have to look in 5 places and review the report to confirm what all was taken.

                        I went out and bought a cheap laptop that could do spreedsheets then added a scanner bar program.....and a USB style hand scanner to read the number bar....made my own bars.....and tracked stuff that way....using case numbers as the magic overall number for them...... Say the case number was 10-001...... I would use that then use 10-001.1/10-001.2/10-001.3/etc..... for the items seized.......All evidence was also tagged.....and I took nothing unless it had a slip with it. Slips were filed and when stuff came/went....slips went with them....

                        We put lockers and several large wooden boxes down stairs next to the room and that's where Deputies put their stuff......locked it up and then dropped the key into a locked container.....I got stuff in the morning when I came in.....

                        Stuff disposed was given a final entry on the slip then slipped filed in another area....

                        I also tossed everyone out of my room and came up wtih an alternate custodian....... Did monthly inventories......and did quarterly inventories that I used an outside agency to confirm (aka the local MSHP SGT or CPL)......as I conducted....

                        We also put a camera on the door.....and had a log-in sheet as when we came and went.....

                        I basically took what I did in the Army and converted it over to our use.....Used their manual for policy and their forms with needed changes and reproduced them.....

                        It's still working good for them...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Stick the new guy with being evidence custodian? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

                          Inventory everything that is there.

                          See what can be destroyed by court order.

                          People aren't gonna like it, but you need a policy in writing about how to handle/secure evidence and found property.

                          You need evidence and safekeeping lockers with locks.

                          Any depts around you that you can check out so you can see how they do it?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by just joe View Post
                            Stick the new guy with being evidence custodian? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
                            I was in that position position 20+ years ago. In retrospect, giving me the job was an indicator of a police department that wasn't well-run. Evidence lockers are ethical minefields. (Do a search for "officer arrested evidence locker") Handling evidence is a job for well-qualified, well-compensated, trusted employees. It shouldn't be thought of as scut work or treated as a punishment detail.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Seventy2002 View Post
                              I was in that position position 20+ years ago. In retrospect, giving me the job was an indicator of a police department that wasn't well-run. Evidence lockers are ethical minefields. (Do a search for "officer arrested evidence locker") Handling evidence is a job for well-qualified, well-compensated, trusted employees. It shouldn't be thought of as scut work or treated as a punishment detail.
                              It does seem a little off base to make the new guy evidence custodian. BUT... Its not because the department is poorly run, although in regards to evidence it has been. Our department has a high turn over rate, and we seem to be a training ground for rookies fresh from the academy. I have several years experience with a high volume department before coming here. With the exception of the chief nobody on this department has over a year full time on the road. They figured I knew more about evidence handling than the other guys I guess. For the time being, Im conducting an inventory of EVERYTHING that was in the evidence closet/room, whatever u want to call it. Once that is done, im implementing a new system for maintaining evidence records and logs. Im also in the process of updating department policy with regards to evidence. Once I get the inventory done, im going to try to figure out what cases are still open and which are not. Some of my evidence doesn't so much as have a case number on it, so thats going to make it even more difficult. Once I know what's still open and whats not, and have it sorted, I will attempt to get a court order for the destruction of it.

                              In the mean time, our department doesn't have the money in the budget to purchase evidence lockers for the officers to put evidence from the field in. Right now I have one small locker that has a lock inside. I have the key to it. Officers have to put evidence in the locker, lock it, and I will retrieve it the next day. The problem is, if more than one officer collects evidence between my shifts, I have to be called in to receive it since the locker is already locked. And on top of that, the locker is not big enough for a long gun, so I have to be called in for that as well. Its not been a problem so far since our department is so small, but Im sure at some point it will be. So, if anybody reading this has some lockers or an evidence collection box of some sorts that they could part with, please PM me. At this point, I'll take any help I can get!

                              Thanks!!

                              Comment

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