Law enforcement agencies face many challenges related to securing evidence and property that is seized in the course of investigating a crime. Property and evidence room management is critical for maintaining and protecting the guns, drugs, money and more that are obtained by law enforcement.
The International Association for Property and Evidence (IAPE) helps establish recommended standards for all property and evidence departments. Following the IAPE’s best practices helps ensure departments are doing all they need to secure police evidence rooms properly.
In this article, we will look at a few of the best practices for property and evidence room management under IAPE standards.
1. Properly Staff the Evidence Room
Having the right people assigned to secure the property and evidence room is a key part of securing evidence and maintaining the integrity of your chain of custody. It’s important that all property and evidence room personnel receive training that includes the department guidelines and local laws for handling evidence, as well as specialized training for handling items such as biohazards or firearms.
It is best practice to not rotate the personnel who work in the evidence room. Rotation increases the number of staff with access to storage areas, which creates a higher risk of error or theft.
2. Enact Up-to-Date Police Evidence Room Security Measures
New methods of evidence room security are always being researched and created, so it’s important that you stay up-to-date on the current best practices and use the latest technologies and processes to secure evidence and maintain proper chain of custody.
Some new methods to consider include:
- A cage or walk-in vault. If your department has enough inventory of items like guns, drugs and money, and you have enough space, creating a separately locked closet, cage or vault within your evidence storage room may be the best option.
- Lockers or locked cabinets. If you have a smaller inventory of evidence or don’t have enough space for a separate room, you may want to use a locker or locked cabinets for your high-security items.
3. Ensure Your Police Evidence Room Is Secure
Police stations are usually at least partially open to the public. However, to maintain the chain of custody, police departments must ensure they always have a secure property and evidence room. Preventing unauthorized entry through proper access controls is the only way to safeguard high-priority police evidence, like guns and money.
Some methods of controlling access to secure areas, like the evidence room, include:
- 24-hour alarms and surveillance cameras
- Extra security for areas where guns, drugs and money are stored
- Logs tracking who enters the evidence room
- Access cards or keys required to enter
- After-hours access controls
4. Put In Place Policies and Procedures in Place for Property and Evidence Room Management
Every law enforcement agency should create, adopt and enact policies and procedures outlining proper handling of all property and evidence. These policies and procedures protect everyone by specifically stating how evidence should be handled and who should be handling it.
Having a well-written policies and procedures manual will:
- Provide guidance for personnel
- Establish responsibilities
- Improve staff efficiency
- Maintain consistency
5. Perform Regular Reviews and Audits of Evidence Room Procedures
Regular reviews of evidence room procedures allow police to see if the policies regarding property and evidence room management are being followed or if issues need to be dealt with. Peer reviews, unannounced spot checks and audits by outside agencies are all ways law enforcement agencies can review their procedures.
Let Tufloc Help You Secure Your Police Evidence Room
If you’re looking for products to help with securing evidence in your police evidence room, Tufloc can help. We understand the unique needs of law enforcement and have designed our industry-leading professional gun storage products to meet those needs.
If you have any questions, please contact our team any time.
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