E.P.P. 11 Property & Evidence Collection
This directive is established to provide guidelines and policy for officers in regard to the handling, collection, packaging, documentation, and submission of property and evidence. This directive is also intended to define the initial duties and responsibilities of members upon arriving at a crime scene.
A. The police department subscribes to the philosophy that there are no crime scenes that cannot be processed. Members will govern themselves according to this philosophy.
B. The collection of evidence by field personnel is limited to simple, non-major crime scenes and includes basic fingerprinting and the collection of small amounts of evidence that must be submitted for laboratory processing.
C. At any crime scene not classified as a ‘major crime scene’ as described in this directive, officers are responsible for evidence processing and collection as part of their normal duty.
D. Proper safeguards and preservation techniques will be used for handling and collection of evidence. All evidence will be handled in a professional manner. All property held by the agency will be kept in secure areas.
A. Field Personnel: Field personnel are defined as officers who serve, generally, as the first respondents to a crime scene.
B. Investigator: Sworn personnel assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division who are responsible for the integrity and criminal investigation of a major crime scene.
C. Evidence Custodian: Personnel assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division who are responsible for the care and custody of evidence and property and are also trained in evidence collection and crime scene investigations for major crime scenes.
D. Evidence: Any substance or material found or recovered in connection with a criminal incident.
E. Property: Any non-evidentiary item which was found or recovered in connection with a member’s responsibilities.
F. Chain of Custody: The continued link established from one person to another when moving evidence from one place to another.
G. Found Property: Property that has been found or recovered that has no evidentiary value, but that which must be collected and preserved or held for its
H. Bio Hazard: Biohazards are infectious agents or hazardous biological materials that present a risk or potential risk to the health of humans.
I. Safe Keeping: Property of a person that may need to be secured either because the item may present a threat to someone, or the person is unable to take custody and secure the property due to circumstances beyond his/her control.
A. All property and evidence collected by members will be submitted directly to the evidence custodian or in the property and evidence storage lockers before going off-duty.
B. To preserve the integrity of blood and other perishable evidence, members will ensure the items are refrigerated immediately following collection by submitting directly to the evidence custodian or utilizing the available refrigerated storage area. The evidence custodian will ensure all blood and other perishable evidence is secured and maintained in refrigerated storage and transferred to the laboratory for analysis in a timely manner.
C. Members are prohibited at all times from storing property and evidence in their personal desks, lockers, homes and unlocked vehicles or other places that are not secure or would interrupt the chain of custody.
D. Personal use of any property or evidence is strictly prohibited.
E. Property and evidence that has been improperly packaged or tagged will not be accepted by the evidence custodian. If submitted directly to the evidence custodian during normal business hours, the submitter will correct the impropriety at the direction of the evidence custodian. If the submission has been left in an evidence locker, the evidence custodian will remove the item(s) (to release use of the locker) and store them in a designated area of the evidence room for safekeeping. The evidence custodian will notify the submitter that he/she needs to make contact with the evidence custodian and correct the receipt before the submission can be accepted.
F. The evidence custodian or backup evidence custodian will be summoned to the
Police station when:
1. Property or evidence is of such bulk or quantity that the use of storage lockers is inappropriate or inadequate; or,
2. When the after-hours storage lockers are full and no empty lockers remain for new property or evidence, or when the after-hours refrigerated storage locker is full.
V. PROPERTY AND EVIDENCE PACKAGING:
A. Except for liquids and large items that will not fit, all property and evidence should be packaged in any of the following:
1. Large manila envelopes.
2. Brown paper bags.
3. Clear plastic evidence bags will only be used for sharps containers, and for certain drugs and liquids.
4. Or any other method approved by the evidence custodian prior to submittal.
B. As a general rule, no more than one piece of property or evidence should be placed in the same bag.
- The items listed below are exceptions to the one item per bag rule:
2. Documents, photos, currency, or narcotics of the same compound, mixture, or preparation.
3. Narcotics of the same compound, mixture, or preparation type can place the narcotics collectively in the same evidence bag.
4. If constructive possession is in question, officers will remember that latent fingerprints can be developed from the original drug wrapping or container and will wear gloves accordingly.
C. If property or evidence is wet or damp, paper bags must be utilized. Wet/damp evidence placed into plastic will mold/mildew, deteriorate, and decompose, rendering it useless for analysis or trial (i.e. blood or semen stained clothing, freshly cut marijuana plants, etc.)
1. During normal work hours, the evidence custodian will prepare and submit wet or damp property or evidence for the reporting member. When the evidence custodian is unavailable, members will utilize the large evidence and refrigeration storage area. The member will lay the property out in a fashion so that it can dry. The member will then return the next duty day to package and submit the evidence. If still wet or damp the member will continue to monitor each work day.
D. Property and evidence in need of refrigeration such as blood and sex crime kits will be submitted directly to the evidence custodian or the backup evidence custodian.
E. Should refrigerated storage be necessary during a time when the evidence custodian and backup evidence custodian are not on duty (i.e. weekends, holidays, after hours), the property or evidence will be secured in the refrigerator located in the refrigeration space in the large evidence and refrigeration storage area immediately following collection.
F. Members handling bio-hazardous property and evidence will use the safety precautions in G.O. 22- Safety in the Workplace and complete the submission as detailed below.
VI. LABELING AND SEALING:
- For physical evidence to be accepted by the court at the time of trial, it is essential that the chain of custody be maintained. The initial step in this process is properly marking or labeling an item at the time it is collected, seized or received.
- An exhibit number will be assigned to each property and evidence item submitted. Members will use their first and last name initials and the number of the item (starting with 1 for the first item) the member submitted for the report. (i.e. John Doe’s evidence item would be labeled JD1, JD2, etc while a supplemental item submitted by another would be TK1, etc.)
C. Items shall be placed in an appropriate container, and sealed with evidence tape.
D. Bags or other containers used for storing property and evidence will be sealed using evidence tape. The submitting employee’s initials and the date will be written across the tape onto the bag or container.
E. Labeling will consist of marking the bag or other container with at least the following information:
1. Case number.
2. Current date.
3. Status of property (evidence arrest, evidence non-arrest, capias, abandoned, lost, or safekeeping).
4. Type of offense and degree of crime.
5. Defendant name, if applicable.
6. Initial exhibit numbers
7. Description of item (make, model, serial number ext.).
8. Submitting member’s name.
9. Submitting member’s signature and ID number.
F. Should the evidence packaging need to be opened after it was sealed, the member opening the evidence will use due care in opening the evidence packaging material. This will keep the packaging material intact and allow for the property or evidence to be repackaged using the same material. Once repackaged, the member will seal the new opening with evidence packaging tape, place his or her initials on the tape and documenting the unsealing of the item on the Property and Evidence Chain of Custody Form.
VII. REQUIRED REPORTS AND DOCUMENTATION:
1. A CAFÉ report will be completed any time a member takes possession of property or evidence.
2. All crime scenes that require processing, investigation, or the collection of evidence or property will also require that a report be made by the responding member. This report will detail the circumstances by which the evidence or property came into the police department’s possession.
3. Should the incident involve a major crime, the member will seek direction from the responding investigator in regard to the content (details) of the report’s narrative. Detailed information that may hamper the investigation of any case should it become public knowledge, will be omitted at the direction of the investigator.
4. The report will include (as necessary):
a) Incident page.
b) Offense page.
c) Persons (victim/witness) page.
d) Illegal document page.
e) Property and evidence chain of custody form.
f) Property page.
g) Vehicle page.
5. All reports will be completed as thoroughly as possible by the field personnel. The following information will be verified as having been included on the report by the initiating member before being submitted to a supervisor for review:
a) Date and time of arrival at the scene.
b) Case number:
c) Location of crime.
d) Names of victims, complainants, suspects, or other persons including witnesses.
e) Narrative synopsis, including the name of the investigator assuming control of the scene (if applicable).
f) List of physical evidence recovered.
6. An investigator or evidence custodian summoned to process a scene will completed his/her own investigatory report.
B. Property and Evidence Chain of Custody Form:
1. The police department provides a Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form as one of several supplements to the CAFE report.
2. A Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form will be completed whenever property or evidence is obtained by police department members. The Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form is used to record the submission and receipt of the property or evidence and to track the chain of custody of all property and evidence.
3. A Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form will be completed by submitting members and attached to all submitted property and evidence.
4. Upon receipt of evidence or property:
- The evidence custodian will assign the property or evidence a location within the secure evidence holding areas and place the items in their assigned locations.
C. Field Property Receipt
- The police department provides a Field Property Receipt form as one of several supplements to the CAFÉ report.
- A Field Property Receipt form will be completed whenever property or evidence is obtained by police department members from another person not associated with the department.
- Incidents when property or evidence is obtained because the item is illegal to possess do not require a Field Property Receipt form (i.e. drugs, suspended drivers licenses, etc.)
- The Field Property Receipt form is used primarily for two types of situations:
1. Incidents when a member receives found property from another; or,
2. Incidents when someone’s property is submitted as evidence.
- The Field Property Receipt form is a multi- page carbon copy form which will be distributed as listed below:
- The white copy of the form will be submitted with the Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form with the property or evidence.
2. The yellow copy will be submitted with the report.
3. The pink copy will be provided to the person whom the property was received
D. Transfer of Evidence:
1. The transfer of any physical evidence will be recorded to maintain a record of the chain of custody.
2. If collected evidence is to be turned over to a criminal investigator or other person, submitting personnel will notate the transfer on the Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form.
3. If evidence is to be transferred to a person, at least the following information will be recorded on the Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form:
a) Evidence tag number(s).
b) Receiving person’s name, responsibility, and signature.
c) Date, time, and method of transfer.
d) The reason for the evidence/property exchange.
e) Date and time of receipt in the laboratory.
E. Laboratory Analysis Request:
1. A Laboratory Analysis Request form will be attached to the Property and Evidence Chain of Custody form if any test or analysis of the submitted material is required by the submitting member. These forms are used for (but not limited to) requesting:
a) Function ability test of a firearm.
b) Processing an item for latent prints.
c) Semen and/or stain analysis.
d) Chemical analysis.
2. When submitting a laboratory analysis request, the requesting member will complete each section of the form.
a) The form should be printed by the requesting member for clarity.
b) At least the following information will be recorded on the Laboratory Analysis Request form:
(1) Case number.
(2) Name of the requesting employee.
(3) Date of offense.
(4) Description of analysis requested.
(5) Nature of the material being submitted (i.e. for trial, not for trial, or found property).
(6) Summary of the case being investigated.
(7) Name and location of the laboratory.
VIII. FIREARMS, WEAPONS, AND AMMUNITION (Special Precautions):
A. Disposable gloves will be worn if a submitted weapon is to be processed for prints, DNA evidence or, for any other type of processing.
B. Firearms will not be picked up by placing an object in the end of the barrel. Evidence marks (i.e. submitter’s initials, time, case number, etc.) will not be placed directly on any weapon, as marks may destroy the value of the evidence, as well as create liability concerns should a weapon be later returned to its owner.
*NOTE: If an investigator is responding to the crime scene, the weapon will not be unloaded or unnecessarily touched by field personnel or other persons.*
C. Firearms that are submitted as safekeeping will be packaged in a clear plastic evidence bag, and sealed with RED evidence tape.
D. Firearms that are submitted as evidence or found property will be packaged in a cardboard property and evidence gun box and sealed with RED evidence tape.
E. If an investigator is not responding, all live ammunition will be removed from the weapon.
*NOTE: If a firearm cannot be safely unloaded of all ammunition, an investigator or evidence custodian will be contacted for instructions in regard to submitting the firearm. No unsafe firearm will be submitted directly into property or evidence until an investigator or the evidence custodian has been contacted for instructions.*
F. Unloading Firearms:
*NOTE: Members will not attempt to unload any firearm when they are unfamiliar with the style/make of the firearm.*
1. If the weapon is to be unloaded by the submitting member:
a) The weapon will be pointed to the ground and in a safe direction before attempting the unloading.
2. Ammunition should be handled as carefully as the weapon itself in order not to disturb any finger prints or DNA on the ammunition.
3. Ammunition should not be removed from any magazine. Magazines removed from weapons will be submitted with the ammunition left intact in the magazine.
a) If the firearm is a revolver; spent, expended, or already fired ammunition should not be removed from the cylinder. Only live ammunition should be removed.
b) If the firearm is a revolver, the positioning of any spent and unspent cartridge casings within the cylinder should be denoted on a diagram (appendix A). This form will be submitted as evidence.
c) If such a diagram is used:
(1) Indicate which chamber of the cylinder was located at the ‘top dead center’ (the cylinder chamber aligned with the barrel when the cylinder was closed). This will be chamber #1.
(2) Counting clockwise, count each cylinder. The number of the cylinder must correspond with the number of the evidence bag holding the live cartridge that was extracted from the firearm (i.e. ‘evidence bag #4 contains live round from firearm chamber #4).
(3) If the cylinder is to be closed back into the firearm after removal of the ammunition, it should be closed in such a manner where chamber #1 (top dead center) is relocated back into its original position. If the cylinder is to be left open, a small piece of paper indicating ‘Top Dead Center’ and listing the submitting employee’s name will be inserted into chamber #1.
d) Different types of ammunition (caliber, manufacturer) should be listed by their respective location on the diagram.
G. The submitting member shall give a description of the weapon (caliber, make, model, and serial number) to the telecommunications section for a computer inquiry as to any stolen or lost status. The results of any inquiry shall be notated by the submitting member on the incident report form.
H. Expended Ammunition:
1. Submit all recovered bullets and cartridge cases.
2. No evidence marks will be placed on bullets or on cases as this may destroy any fingerprints, DNA or marks made by the weapon.
I. Live Ammunition:
1. Attempt to recover any unused ammunition of the same brand and type for test firing and comparison purposes.
2. Unused ammunition should be given the same evidence safeguards as spent ammunition.
J. Packaging of Ammunition:
1. Each container will be sealed with evidence tape and properly labeled.
2. Live ammunition still in its original box/container can be submitted in its entirety. Live loose ammunition in quantity can be placed together in a bag or other container and marked ‘CAUTION, CONTAINS LIVE AMMUNITION’.
3. All ammunition shall be packaged separate from firearm(s).
K. Knives, edged instruments, or other sharp objects will be packaged in a clear plastic evidence bag and sealed with RED evidence tape.
- These bags will be clearly marked ‘CAUTION, CONTAINS KNIFE – SHARP INSTRUMENT (GLASS, ETC.).
2. The instrument(s) will be enclosed in a sharps container before being placed into the evidence bag. The sharps container will be sealed with RED evidence tape.
- The use of the cardboard property and evidence gun boxes is permitted to safety secure edged instruments if sharps containers are unavailable or not large enough.
- If no other options are available to safely submit an edged instrument, members are permitted to wrap the blade of the sharp instrument using tape and cardboard prior to submitting the item as explained above.
3. Folding knives will be submitted, as described above, with the blade closed and tape wrapped around the knife to keep the blade from opening.
IX. BIO-HAZARD PROPERTY AND EVIDENCE
- Members will handle bio-hazard property and evidence using the safety precautions listed in G.O. 22- Safety In the Workplace
- Members will submit completely dry bio-hazard property and evidence using the procedures listed in this policy depending on the type of evidence while also incorporating the following additional safety precautions:
- Seal the item in a red plastic bio-hazard bag before placing in a clear plastic evidence bag;
2. Seal the clear plastic evidence bag with red biohazard evidence tape;
3. Place a bio-hazard sticker on the exterior of the evidence bag; and
4. Submit the properly packaged item in the designated bio-hazard locker.
- If the bio-hazard locker is unavailable or the item(s) do not fit the member will contact an investigator or the evidence custodian for instruction.
*NOTE: Wet or damp property or evidence will be submitted as described in section V.C of this policy.
C. Syringes with needles attached are extreme health hazards and should be handled with care at all times. ALL SYRINGES WITH NEEDLES MUST BE PACKAGED IN BIO-HAZARD SYRINGE (SHARPS) CONTAINERS which will then be submitted as detailed above in the bio-hazard property and evidence section.
1. The Sharps container must be sealed with RED biohazard evidence tape and clearly marked ‘CAUTION, SYRINGE WITH NEEDLE ATTACHED.’
2. A supervisor will be notified immediately and an investigator or evidence custodian summoned to process a scene where numerous exposed hypodermic needles require retrieval.
- Razor blades are to be sealed in a sharps container, the container is then sealed with red biohazard tape and then marked ‘CAUTION, RAZOR BLADES’ before being submitted as detailed above in the bio-hazard property and evidence section.
- Members encountering difficulties with biohazard property or evidence because of safety or proper storage concerns will contact the evidence custodian who will direct the member how to manage the bio-hazard item(s).
A. Open containers of liquid that require analysis, laboratory processing or special preservation and where the original cap or seal is available, may be re-sealed, placed into an plastic evidence bag, labeled with the type of liquid (if known), and submitted into evidence.
B. If the container cannot be re-sealed, the member will utilize an approved evidence liquid container to capture the liquid. The member will place the lid on the container and ensure that it is sealed to prevent leakage. Evidence sealing tape will be placed over the top and sides of the container to preclude tapering. The packaging member will place his/her initials on the tape. The container will be placed in a clear plastic evidence bag, sealed and properly labeled in accordance with this directive.
C. If the member does not have the proper container to seize the liquid, then the evidence custodian or on-duty investigator will be summoned to the scene to take possession. In order to make necessary preparations, the evidence custodian or investigator should be given a description of the suspect material before being advised to respond to the scene.
XI. LARGE PROPERTY AND EVIDENCE CONSIDERATIONS:
Large items requiring special transportation needs beyond that normally available to members will be managed as listed below:
A. Large, bulky items often cannot be bagged, sealed, or transported by members.
B. If the members are processing a scene, the item will be processed the same as other evidence.
C. If items cannot be processed by field personnel, the evidence custodian or investigator will be summoned to take charge of the scene:
1. Members will not abandon the scene/evidence until relieved by the evidence custodian or investigator.
2. The evidence custodian or investigator will determine any special processing needs upon his/her arrival at the scene.
3. Upon arrival at the scene, the evidence custodian or investigator will determine an appropriate means of transporting the property.
D. If the item can be processed by field personnel, but must also be taken into custody as evidence, members will:
1. Mark/tag the item properly,
2. Transport the item to the police department, and
3. Submit the item in the large evidence and refrigeration storage area as directed by this policy.
E. If the collection of the property creates extenuating circumstances, the on-duty investigator or evidence custodian will be notified and asked to respond to the scene.
- The evidence custodian or investigator will:
a. Respond to the scene and take custody of the property.
- Direct that a private towing or other service be used to convey the item to the police station.
- When a private service transports evidence to the police station for processing, the service company will be followed by the member.
*NOTE: Under no circumstances will property or evidence of any kind be left with a complainant or left unattended while unsecured as required by this policy.
XII. FOUND PROPERTY:
A. All found property will be submitted to property and evidence if the member is unable to return the property to the owner prior to the end of the member’s workday when the property was obtained.
XIII. DIGITAL EVIDENCE:
A. Digital evidence will be submitted using the same manner as all evidence unless detailed differently below.
B. Digital images will be printed and submitted or saved to an electronic storage device which will be submitted.
1. Digital images related to misdemeanor crimes will be uploaded to the Café report and do not need to be submitted into evidence.
2. Digital images related to felony crimes will be uploaded into the Café report and submitted into evidence.
3. Exceptions of incidents when images will not be uploaded into Café are:
a) Any sex related crime.
b) Child abuse investigations.
c) Any death investigation.
d) Anything graphic, pornographic or offensive in nature.
C. Video evidence will be saved to a CD, DVD or other electronic storage device which will be submitted into evidence.
D. Photographic release of property:
1. Purpose: to release, at the earliest possible time, all recovered property of evidentiary value when ownership is not in dispute.
2. Exception: this procedure shall not apply to: money, explosives, hazardous or illegal substances, narcotics, and property confiscated by search warrant, firearms or weapons used in the commission of the crime, property requiring laboratory analysis, or any property that is illegal to possess under municipal, state, or federal laws. Items held for investigation of a capital offense shall not be photo released (i.e. homicide, kidnapping for ransom, etc.) Items held in major crimes shall not be released without written approval of the State Attorney’s Office.
3. Application: This procedure shall apply to all property which is being held as evidence in connection with an investigation and/or prosecution of either felony or misdemeanor offenses involving adults or juveniles (unless noted in the exception list in the paragraph above).
4. Considerations for release or property at the scene:
a) Is the victim/owner known?
b) Is there only one owner claiming the property?
c) Does the situation allow for release of property according to the procedures outlined?
d) If all three answers are positive and if the owner is present or able to respond within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the investigation, the property should be released at the scene according to Part 5.
5. Procedure for Photographic Release of Property:
a) A photo image is taken of the property. The photo image should show a true depiction of the property.
b) An additional photo image should be taken of unique marks, distinguishing characteristics or serial numbers of the property.
c) Photo images shall be color prints taken with a department approved camera.
d) The member shall stamp the back of the photograph with the Return Property Affidavit stamp supplied in the evidence packaging area, complete the information stamped onto the photograph and then submit the photo image into evidence.
- In the event money is obtained as property or evidence, the following procedures will be followed:
- The money will be counted in the presence of the person who the member received the money from and a Field Property Receipt form will be completed as explained in this policy.
2. If the money obtained is over $100.00 then the member obtaining the money will collect photo images of the money prior to counting it and summons a supervisor who will complete a separate count and verify both counts match exactly.
a) The photo images of the money will be attached to the Café report.
XV. DRUGS AND DRUG PARAPHERNALIA:
- Pills, fragments or crushed material, capsules, any powder and Crack Cocaine will be separated from its original container and packaged in a clear plastic zip lock type bag unless already in a clear plastic bag. The seized drug evidence will then be placed into a clear plastic evidence bag.
- All original containers, to include pill bottles, will be packaged and submitted separately.
C. Seized drugs will be separated by type, then bagged, weighed, and sealed with red tape. The weight and a detailed description of the pills; including the color, shape, and any design or number imprinted on the pill will be noted on the property sheet in Café and on the evidence package.
D. When determining the weight of marijuana and other plant material type drugs, if possible, weigh what has been confiscated in the same container it has been confiscated in and then place into a paper evidence envelope or bag.
1. Narcotics and dangerous drugs shall not be accepted into property storage unless packaged, labeled, and sealed by the investigating member. ‘Sealed package’ is defined as packaging that would allow the interior contents to become accessible to unauthorized persons only upon a deliberate attempt to violate the integrity of the taped seal. Packages shall not be opened except for the sole purpose of requested testing, authorized and recording inspection, or disposal.
2. All packages utilized for storage of narcotics and dangerous drugs, including the containers into which they have been stored, will be inspected and examined by the evidence custodian to ensure that the have not been tampered with.
3. If any discrepancy appears to exist between what is submitted and what is inventoried on the property receipt, the evidence will not be accepted and the submitting officer will be contacted immediately. After any requested lab tests are completed the package will be resealed and initialed. The analyst performing the test will complete the test report and re-secure the evidence.
- Drug Paraphernalia:
- Drug paraphernalia should always be packaged separately from drugs.
2. Drug paraphernalia should be submitted for analysis only if the substance contained in or on the item in question is useful for successful case prosecution.
- Operation Safe Medicine:
1. Operation Safe Medicine illustrates our commitment to keeping all of our citizens safer by protecting them from the harmful misuse of prescription drugs and reducing the environmental implications related to improper disposal of medications. Operation Safe Medicine is a pharmaceutical take-back program that allows citizens to dispose of their unused or expired over-the counter- and prescription medications. Operation Safe Medicine provides the opportunity for the community to change its habits in regards to use and safe storage of pharmaceuticals, in an effort to reduce accessibility to dangerous substances.
2. The Operation Safe Medicine program will use a secured, keyed container clearly marked with a program decal and will be located in the police department lobby. The container must be designed so that when medicine bottles are surrendered and placed into the container, the medicine bottles cannot be removed without a key.
3. The evidence custodian will be responsible for the removal of all medicines at the end of each work day during the week. The medicine will then be logged into evidence for destruction purposes.
XVI. CLAIMING PROPERTY:
Citizens wishing to re-claim their property will be asked to telephone the evidence custodian and make an appointment. Reasonable proof of ownership must be established prior to the release of property or evidence. A criminal history check will be completed and reviewed by a supervisor prior to the release of any firearm. Firearms and ammunition will be sealed in separate packaging when released together. The evidence custodian will have an officer stand by while firearms are returned to citizens. Narcotics will not be released to citizens.
XVII. PROPERTY AND EVIDENCE STORAGE LOCATIONS:
A. Secured lockers for property and evidence are provided in the police department. These lockers are available for use any time the evidence custodian is unavailable.
B. Submitting members will:
1. Ensure that a locker is empty.
2. Place the evidence inside the locker.
3. Securely lock the door to the locker with the provided key,
4. The key will then be deposited in the designated key drop slot located next to the property and evidence lockers.
5. Small property; such as envelopes, will be placed in locker #3.
6. Bio-hazard property or evidence will be placed in the restricted locker, which is the designated exclusively for bio- hazard submissions.
C. If all available storage lockers are full or the property is too large, the large evidence and refrigeration storage area can be utilized. If all lockers and the large evidence and refrigeration storage area are full, the evidence custodian or the backup evidence custodian, will be summoned to take possession of the evidence.
D. Evidence Room:
- The evidence room is the primary secure storage area property and evidence received by the evidence custodian is maintained.
2. The evidence room is located in the Criminal Investigations area of the police department
3. Only the evidence custodian and back up evidence custodian will have access the evidence room.
4. Any other employee who enters the evidence room will sign in on the evidence room sign-in sheet and have authorization from the evidence custodian or back up evidence custodian to enter the evidence room.
5. The evidence room will have extra security measures consisting of a secondary secured, locked area within the evidence room for the storage of firearms, drugs, precious metals, jewelry and money.
6. The evidence custodian and back up custodian will keep the evidence room secure at all times.
7. At no time will the evidence custodian or back up custodian give control of their evidence room keys to an unauthorized person.
E. Property and Evidence Overflow/Bulk Storage:
1. To accommodate bulk items or overflow storage needs, the evidence custodian has two additional, exclusive areas to securely store received property and evidence items. The first overflow/ bulk storage area is a secure gated space in the unattached, storage building located on the northeast corner of the police department property. The second available space available to the evidence custodian is a secure storage room located in the sally port area of the police department. The evidence custodian and back up evidence custodian have sole, exclusive access to the overflow/ bulk storage areas and they will ensure both areas are secured when unattended.
F. Large Evidence and Refrigeration Storage Area:
1. To facilitate the temporary storage of bicycles and other large pieces of property, the department created the large evidence and refrigeration storage area. This room is located in the sally port and is secured by a combination door lock.
2. Each member is furnished with the combination to the room.
3. The interior of the large evidence and refrigeration room consists of three individual spaces which allows members to secure large property or evidence individually.
4. The individual spaces are designated B1, B2, and Refrigeration. Each storage space has an assigned padlock. Once property has been secured in the space, the member will secure the individual door with the designated padlock and then deposit the padlock key in the evidence locker key drop.
5. The refrigeration storage space is equipped with a refrigerator to accommodate evidence requiring refrigeration. This space is secured with a padlock in the same manner as the other spaces. If at any time it appears the refrigerator is not working properly, the evidence custodian or the criminal investigations supervisor will be notified.
6. The evidence and property chain of custody form for the item will be deposited into evidence locker #3.
7. The evidence custodian will be responsible for transferring all items in the large evidence and refrigeration and storage area to their appropriate long term storage area.
8. This area is not to be used for long term storage of property or evidence.
XVIII. DISPOSAL OF EVIDENCE AND PROPERTY:
All items of property collected by police department members will be classified into five separate categories (evidence, drugs/contraband, found property, weapons, and safe keeping.) The following is a description of the criteria for each category, and how the property will ultimately be disposed of:
A. Evidence: is any property, which is collected on a case for which it contains evidentiary value.
1. Evidence Arrest: Evidence seized from any arrest can only be disposed of after receiving written notice from the State Attorney’s Office or Clerk of the Court, verifying that the case has been disposed of. The evidence will then be retained for thirty (30) days to ensure that no appeals have been filed. Upon the expiration of said time frame, the evidence custodian will review the status of the case using the State Attorney Case Management System and verify the evidence can be disposed of. Once the disposal has been confirmed, the property may then be disposed of pursuant to Florida State Statute 705.105 which states, ‘if the property is retained by the law enforcement department for official use and is not claimed within 90 days after the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, title to the property shall permanently vest in the respective city, county, or state.’ If the property is to be sold, proper public notice must be given and proceeds shall be paid to any person making proper claim within 90 days after which proceeds will be paid to the general fund of the city.
2. When receiving a disposition, involving a felony, stating that the State Attorney’s Office is not going to file or ‘nolle pros’ the case will be reviewed by the CID supervisor to determine if possible charges can be made in the future. At that time, the CID supervisor will decide if the evidence can be disposed of.
3. Evidence Non-Arrest: collected on cases for which criminal charges were never filed, will be disposed of only upon the expiration of the statute of limitations for the crime for which the evidence was collected to support.
4. In the event that large bulky items begin to accumulate, the case will be reviewed by the CID supervisor to determine if any future leads could be developed. If not, a determination will be made to ascertain if the evidence will be destroyed.
5. According to Florida State Statutes 775.15, it is indicated that prosecution must be commenced within the following time limitations after the offense is committed:
Non-Criminal Violation within 1 year
2nd degree misdemeanor within 1 year
1st degree misdemeanor within 2 years
3rd degree felony within 3 years
2nd degree felony within 3 years
1st degree felony within 4 years
Life felony no limitation
Capital felony no limitation
B. Drugs/Contraband: refers to any substance controlled by Florida State Statute 893.
Upon final disposition received for the case for which the contraband was confiscated, the contraband will be destroyed pursuant to Florida State Statute 893.12 which states, ‘the court having jurisdiction shall order such controlled substances forfeited and destroyed. A record of the finds and quantities of controlled substances were seized, of the finds and quantities of controlled substances destroyed, and of the time, place, and manner of destruction shall be kept, and a return under oath reporting said destruction shall be made to the court or magistrate by the member who destroys them.’
C. Found Property: pertains to all property found within the city limits by either law enforcement personnel or citizens.
1. Pursuant to Florida State Statute 705.103, ‘the title to all personal property found in or upon public conveyances, premises at the time used for business purposes, parks, places of amusement, public recreation areas, and other places open to the public is hereby vested in the finder unless the same is to be called for and claimed by the rightful owner thereof within 90 days after the finding.’
2. Employees of any state, county or municipal agency shall be deemed agents of such governmental entity, and all personal property found by them during the course of their official duties shall be turned in to the proper person or department designated to receive such property by the said governmental entity. Such property shall be securely kept for the period of time required by this section, after which time, if unclaimed by the rightful owner, the title to such property shall be vested in the state, county, or municipality and not in the employee.
D. Weapons: refers to any weapons as defined in Florida State Statute 790.
1. Final disposition of weapons seized will be pursuant to Florida State Statute 790.08:
a) If the person is convicted, such weapons shall become forfeited to the state, without any order of forfeiture being necessary, although the making of such an order shall be deemed proper, and such weapons, shall be forfeited to the Longwood Police Department and the chief or his designee is hereby made the custodian of such weapons.
b) If the person arrested is acquitted, the said weapons taken from him/her shall be returned to him; however, if he fails to call for or receive the same within 90 days from after his acquittal or the dismissal of the charges against him, such weapon shall be forfeited to the Longwood Police Department and the chief or his designee is hereby made the custodian of such weapons.
c) All such weapons found abandoned and not reclaimed by the owners within 90 days, will eventually be forfeited to the Longwood Police Department.
2. When a firearm(s) is returned to its owner, all ammunition that was seized with the weapon(s) will be returned separately in sealed packaging. The evidence custodian will have an officer standby when firearms are returned to citizens. The ammunition will be disposed of if not retrieved by the owner within 30 days of the weapon being returned.
E. Safe Keeping: refers to any property in the care and custody of the police department, which is not considered evidence, found property, or contraband, and the department’s sole purpose for having the property is to ensure the safe return to its owner, protect the property from criminal acts, or to maintain custody of the property for a maximum of 30 days to ensure the safety of the owner or general public.
- If a telephone number for the owner of the property can be obtained, the evidence custodian will attempt to contact the owner by telephone to return the property
2. If unable to make contact via telephone, the evidence custodian will attempt to locate the owner’s mailing address of the owner and send a letter in an attempt to return the property.
3. The property will be disposed of after 30 days if the property owner cannot be identified, attempts to make contact were unsuccessful or the owner fails to respond to attempts to return the property,
XIX. CRIME SCENES:
A. The police department provides personnel training, equipment and supplies for the purpose of processing crime and accident scenes.
1. Field Personnel:
Field personnel are supplied with the equipment and material to process fingerprints and collect, seal and submit evidence at simple, non-extensive scenes. The field personnel will be provided the following supplies and equipment:
a) Multiple sets of disposable protective gloves.
b) One fingerprint kit containing:
(1) One fingerprint brush.
(2) One jar of black fingerprint powder.
(3) Two dozen fingerprint cards.
(4) One roll of fingerprint lifting tape.
(5) One dozen fingerprint collection/evidence envelopes.
c) Evidence collection materials.
d) Evidence sealing/labeling tape.
e) Instant or digital camera.
f) Drug test kits
2. Investigators and/or Evidence Custodians:
a) Investigators and evidence custodians, who are responsible for processing all major or extensive crime scenes, are provided with the training and equipment to effectively perform:
(1) The recovery of fingerprints.
(2) Photography and videography.
(3) The recovery of DNA evidence
(4) Collection and preservation of small and large amounts of physical evidence.
b) Officers will collect sufficient quantities of evidence if laboratory analysis or comparison is necessary.
B. Upon arrival at a crime scene, field personnel will determine the type of crime.
C. If the crime scene fits the criteria of a ‘major’ crime scene (as defined in the following chapter), field personnel will immediately begin following procedures outlined for responding to major crime scenes.
D. If the scene does not fit the criteria of a major crime scene, the member will:
1. Begin observation of the general scene upon arrival, taking note of the location of obvious evidence.
2. Request the victim, complainant, or other persons present not to touch anything that may have been disturbed by the perpetrator(s).
3. Isolate any evidence that cannot be immediately processed or collected.
4. Begin the report taking process.
5. Select items or areas that have evidentiary value and begin fingerprint processing.
6. Collect and label items that must be confiscated or collected for laboratory fingerprint processing or other analysis. Officers should be sure to collect sufficient samples of all evidence to be processed.
7. Collect digital images of injuries, property damage, or any other evidence that cannot be physically submitted into evidence or that which if not photographed, might be lost, healed or repaired after the initial report.
8 Attempt to locate additional digital evidence sources and collect any possible evidence from those sources.
9. Conduct a canvas of the immediate area in an attempt to locate witnesses and any other evidence relevant to the investigation
10. Upon retrieving or processing all available evidence, complete the field investigation and written report.
11. Submit all evidence before going off-duty.
XX. RESPONSE TO MAJOR CRIME SCENES:
- It is a policy of the police department for an investigator with the investigations division to be notified of all major crimes. The investigator will assume control of the crime scene once on scene. If requested, the on duty supervisor will assist the investigator by providing personnel, when possible, to assist the investigator with investigative tasks.
- The investigator will be notified by field personnel within one hour of arriving on scene and confirming the incident is a major crime.
B. Investigators are available on a 24 hour basis. A request that an investigator respond to a scene can be initiated only by any supervisor
1. All requests will be made to the investigations supervisor.
2. If the investigations supervisor is unavailable the on call investigator will be contacted directly.
C. Major crime scene: are defined, but are not limited to:
2. Sexual battery.
3. Aggravated battery.
4. Child abuse.
5. Extensive burglary.
8. Crime scenes where the evidentiary recovery of blood, hair, fibers, paint, tool marks, time impressions, etc. is necessary.
9. Crime scenes requiring extensive processing that would unduly deter a member’s return to duty.
D. Field personnel arrival at a major crime scene:
The following procedures will be adhered to by members upon arrival at a crime scene when it is determined that an investigator is responding:
1. The preservation of life is paramount, even at the risk of destroying evidence. In all cases involving personal injury, members will check for signs of life and administer first aid if appropriate.
a) If rescue personnel have responded to administer medical aid, members will ensure that any identifiable evidence remains as undisturbed as possible.
b) The investigation of major crime scenes is a highly specialized and technical field. Members who are not assigned to the criminal investigations division will secure the scene for the responding investigator.
2. Access to major crime scenes will be restricted to all persons other than the investigators and appropriate personnel.
3. A crime scene log documenting the names of all people who access an established major crime scene will be established as soon as possible.
4. Investigators responding to potential homicides will notify the on- call State Attorney so they can determine if they are going to respond to the scene.
- The first member(s) to arrive at a crime scene will:
1. Proceed with caution in the event the suspect(s) are still in the immediate area.
2. Request a response from a supervisor.
3. Determine if medical assistance is required by the victim(s).
4. Obtain a description of any possible suspect(s) and vehicle(s) from the complainant, victim, or witness.
5. Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witnesses.
6. Protect the scene from intrusion by unauthorized persons. Deploy crime scene perimeter tape if necessary.
7. Not disturb any identifiable evidence.
8. Take notes indicating the location and description of weapons or other items having obvious evidentiary value.
9. Provide all relevant information to the investigator.
10. Not abandon the scene until relieved by the investigator taking responsibility for the scene.
XXI. COLLECTION OF FINGERPRINTS:
A. Members will attempt to collect fingerprint impressions when investigating crimes when attempting to identify the suspect or confirming the identification of the suspect is necessary.
- Latent fingerprint processing will be completed at, but is not limited to, all burglaries and recovered stolen vehicles. Investigating members will attempt to:
- Identify and process points of entry and exit.
- Identify and process any items possibly handled or touched by the suspect(s).
2. Officers will exercise extreme care when ‘dusting’ for latent prints within a residence, vehicle interior or around items that are fragile, valuable or easily soiled.
a) All police department members are advised that any damage to property caused by the indiscreet and/or careless use of fingerprint powder may cause the member to be held liable for any damage.
b) When practical, processing members will use newspaper, paper towels, or similar protection beneath the item being dusted to avoid soiling carpet, tile, furniture, etc.
c) The victim will be advised to clean any dusted surfaces as soon as possible upon completing of processing.
B. Basic Fingerprinting Techniques:
1. Put on a set of clean disposable gloves prior to processing.
2. Fingerprint powder is gently applied (dropped) onto the object using a fingerprint brush.
3. Gently brush (in a circular motion) the powder over the print.
4. The card to which the fingerprint is to be attached should be prepared first. Using the opposite side of the card where the print will be attached, the following information will be recorded:
a) Date and time the print was taken.
b) Type of crime.
c) Case number.
d) Victim’s name.
e) Address of the incident.
f) The location the print was taken; including a brief sketch.
5. Fingerprint tape shall be laid across the print so as to roll the tape onto the print (to prevent air bubbles from forming under the tape.)
6. Smooth tape down over the print.
7. Gently lift the print by pulling slowly up on the tape. The tape is transferred to a fingerprint card slowly, carefully ‘rolling’ the tape across the card to prevent air bubbles from forming.
8. Smooth the tape down over the card.
9. Sever the tape from both ends of the card.
10. If not already recorded, the above information will be imprinted on the reverse side of the card for each print lifted.
11. Place the card(s) into an evidence envelope:
a) Seal the envelope with evidence sealing tape.
b) Initial the taped seal.
c) Properly label the envelope.
d) Submit the envelope into evidence storage.
**NOTE: If lifted prints don’t appear to have value, they will still be submitted to evidence. A latent examiner will make the ultimate determination if any print is usable or unusable**
C. Adverse weather conditions:
1. Invariably, there will be times when members are summoned to a crime scene where a surface needing to be processed has been exposed to the elements (i.e. rain, heavy dew, etc.) These surfaces are not necessarily contaminated. When dry, latent prints left by the perpetrator may still be present and available to be lifted. When a scene of this nature is encountered:
a) Members will advise the victim that the property needs to be processed, but that it cannot be completed at present due to the surface being wet; or, if during normal CID operating hours, the member may elect to contact an investigator and request them to respond to process the area with Small Particle Reagent. The response of the investigator will ultimately be determined by the CID supervisor.
b) Request that the victim refrain from handling the evidence until it becomes dry.
c) The member will ask the victim to telephone the Telecommunications Section when the evidence has dried and request the member to return to the scene. If the member has already gone off-duty, then another member will return to complete the processing.
d) Ensure that the victim retains a copy of the case number in the event follow up is managed by someone other than the original member.
2. Adverse weather conditions will not restrict a member from processing that part of a scene unaffected by the weather.
XXII. DUTIES OF THE EVIDENCE CUSTODIAN:
- The evidence custodian shall be accountable for the reception, storage, and disposal of all evidence and property within his or her control.
1. Whenever practical, the evidence custodian will remove all property and evidence from the storage lockers daily. The evidence custodian shall compare the property receipt against the property and evidence for accuracy. Any discrepancies, including incomplete forms, shall be brought to the attention of the submitting member’s supervisor via a memorandum or email.
2. The evidence custodian will ensure that all received laboratory analysis requests are completed and the written results are provided to the requesting member or state attorney representative, The evidence custodian will also ensure that a copy of the laboratory analysis report is included with the case report.
- The evidence custodian will ensure all DNA evidence collected during a sexual offense investigation is submitted to the statewide criminal analysis laboratory system within 30 days of receipt or upon request as required by Florida State Statute 943.326. .
3. The evidence custodian will ensure all necessary authorizations for the destruction of narcotics and firearms are received and maintained.
4. The evidence custodian shall make evidence available to the courts as directed by subpoena.
5. The evidence custodian shall be responsible for the following designated storage areas:
a) Large evidence and refrigeration storage area,
b) Evidence lockers,
c) Designated overflow/ bulk storage areas,
d) Operation safe medicine box.
6. The members of the police department with unrestricted access to the secure evidence room and the overflow/ bulk storage areas are:
a) Evidence custodian,
b) Designated back up evidence custodian, and
c) Any member designated by the chief of police.
7. The evidence custodian or back up evidence custodian in the absence of the evidence custodian will enter all property and evidence into the designated property and evidence records system within 48 hours of submission or return to duty when submitted on a weekend or holiday to ensure proper and up to date property and evidence accountability; this records entry shall include the following information:
a) Location of property or evidence.
b) Date and time property or evidence was received.
c) Description of the item.
d) Chain of custody from the time of receipt until final disposition.
e) Date and results of all inspections, inventories, and audits.
8. The evidence custodian will assist members with the processing of major crime scenes and the processing of large evidence items.
9. The evidence custodian will receive and securely store member’s laptops and citation printers when members submit this equipment to the evidence room.
B. Appointment of a new evidence custodian:
The appointment of a new evidence custodian shall require a joint inventory conducted by the former custodian, if available, or agency designee and the new appointee. All discrepancies shall be documented prior to assumption of responsibility by the new evidence custodian. The inventory sample shall be of a sufficient number to ensure all records are current and accurate.
C Property and Evidence Accountability:
- The evidence custodian will be accountable for all property and evidence within his or her control.
An annual examination, which consists of an examination of conformance with agency controls, policies and procedures, of the property and evidence function will be conducted by a person not routinely or directly connected with control of property. This person will be designated by the chief of police.
2. An unannounced annual inspection, which consists of a review of property and evidence storage areas for organization and orderliness, will be conducted by a supervisor designated by the chief of police.
3. An annual inventory, which consists of a partial accounting, of all property and evidence is conducted by the evidence custodian or designee and a designee of the chief of police not routinely or directly connected with control of the property or evidence.
- Partial accounting is defined as all property within the secondary secured, locked area (firearms, drugs, precious metals, jewelry and money) and an additional 500 items not within the secondary secured, locked area of the evidence room.
Note: Property and evidence are recognized as separate components. While it is permissible to conduct audits, inspections and inventories of property and evidence items at the concurrently the documentation for property and evidence must be separate.
- Lost, missing, or stolen property or evidence will require a follow-up investigation;
- The evidence custodian will conduct a general search of the property and evidence storage areas for the missing item(s).
- The evidence custodian will consult with the back-up evidence custodian in an attempt to locate the missing item(s).
- The evidence custodian will review all computerized data bases in an attempt to locate the missing item(s).
- Should the missing items not be located during these initial searches; the chief of police will be notified within 12 hours, of the missing evidence through the evidence custodian’s chain-of-command.
- The evidence custodian will conduct a complete inventory of property and evidence in an attempt to locate the missing item(s).
- The chief of police may designate a person not routinely or directly connected with the control of property and evidence to conduct a search and/or inventory.
- In the event the missing item(s) are not found, a criminal report and an investigation will be initiated.