Boost efficiency, organization, and security with an Evidence Tracking System

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The job, it’s what we do: put on the uniform and do the job. I’ve been on the job for 30 years. Sometimes that job means going on patrol and being a part of the action when something goes down (not that anything really ever happens here in the township, mind you). Other times that job is managing the evidence room and keeping the log books up to date. And if the last 10 years have taught me anything, it’s that no job is a cake walk. Between keeping track of what’s coming in from crime scenes, being sent out to the lab for testing, to the DA’s office for court, or the incinerator for destruction, can be pretty hectic. That’s why I’ve got my system. It took me a few years of trying different things to get it just right, but now it’s a well-oiled machine that gets the job done. Or so I thought.

The Chief came to see me the other day about our evidence “situation”. I wasn’t sure what he meant by “situation”. He asked if I’d heard what happened two counties over. I’d only heard little things here and there. Apparently a bunch of critical evidence went missing from their evidence room. I asked how? Somebody got a hold of the log books and changed the status on lots of evidence. They were still trying to figure out exactly what went missing, because there was already plenty unaccounted for.

I tried to assure the Chief that nothing like that was going to happen here. He cut me off, informing me that orders from on high were for all departments to move to a computer system with evidence tracking software. I was a bit worried that if they were going to replace the books, they might replace me too. It must have been written on my face because he told me to quit worrying. The Chief also asked me to do some research and figure out what evidence management program we should use. I told him I’d do my best.

During my research, I found out there are lots of different programs to track evidence on the computer. It seemed that most of them had several screens to go through just to enter one piece of evidence. They also seemed to be geared more toward bigger departments with bigger budgets than what we could muster. I was frustrated and beginning to think that any evidence tracking system worth its salt was going to be way out of our price range. Fortunately, as I was about to give up, I found a program that used a single screen for entering evidence, kept an activity log and had field names that I actually recognized. This turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The complete system was a fraction of the cost of the other programs and systems that I had looked at.

It only took a short time to figure out the exact system we needed and have it shipped to us. Set-up was a breeze, and after watching a couple of videos on how to use the program, I set about entering all the old evidence into the new system. I processed more evidence on that one day than I was able to do in an entire week before. I was amazed, and the Chief couldn’t be happier.

Once I got all the old evidence entered, the Chief asked me to do a complete inventory of the evidence room. In the past, it would have taken me weeks, possibly a month, to do a full inventory. However, with the tablet and scanner that came with our system, I can do an inventory in a matter of hours, which made my life a whole lot easier! Between this new system and the new procedures we’ve put in place, we are now on track to be IAPE and CALEA certified.

I admit I was hesitant to get a computer system and skeptical to let it keep track of our evidence, but the results speak for themselves. My evidence room is now well organized, it functions more efficiently and is absolutely secure. It’s always hard to make a change at first, but now that we have this system, I can’t imagine getting my work done without it.

— Barney Mayweather

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Court Case Update

FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE went through a nearly three-year ordeal in the New Hampshire court system, but eventually emerged unscathed. On April 4, 2008, the New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision of a lower court to exclude expert testimony regarding fingerprint evidence in the case of The State of New Hampshire v. Richard Langill. The case has been remanded back to the Rockingham County Superior Court.