Editorial
Written by Kristi Mayo   

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Trying to do more
with less.

AS A RESULT of the economy, it seems every organization and individual tries to do more with less in order to survive. As just one example, the Stockton Police Department in California is preparing for a “worst-case scenario” of 100 civilian-employee layoffs by training sworn police officers to fill those positions—including spots in the evidence unit and the property room. The police officers require a higher salary than their civilian counterparts, but they have the ability to do double-duty: If there is an emergency, they can be pulled back into the field at any time.

In a recent interview, Executive Director of the International Association of Property and Evidence, Inc. (IAPE) Joseph Latta said that cutting back on personnel and agency budgets—particularly in the property room—only delays the inevitable. “You pay for it now, or you pay for it later,” he said.

Latta pointed to a long list of negative headlines from property rooms across the country (you can find the list on the IAPE home page: www.iape.org). “There is a reason for all of those headlines,” he said. “If you are a police chief—be it in New York or the smallest town in Missouri—your experience has been chasing bad guys, not taking care of ‘stuff’. As a new sergeant, lieutenant, or captain over this thing they call the property room, we get thrown in there and have no idea what we are doing and it is hard for us to make decisions—so property rooms, over the years, have floundered… because we just don’t know what to do.”

A solution, of course, is training. The IAPE offers a two-day course that covers the fundamentals of property-room management. The International Association for Identification will be holding its week-long International Educational Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this August. And an entire list of training opportunities can be found on evidencemagazine.com under the Training Calendar tab. Opportunities are everywhere.

Yes, training costs money. It often requires travel. And, sometimes, exposure to new knowledge may uncover your own organization’s shortcomings and limitations. None of those elements are particularly comfortable to deal with.

On the other hand, training can reveal new ideas, resources, and connections that can be a significant motivating factor. Looking at the problem from a new perspective helps clear the mind of the mantra, “We can’t”— a phrase that can be so crippling.

For now, perhaps our reality is that we simply must do more with less. But seeking out good training opportunities may help our limited resources seem more substantial.

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Evidence Technology Magazine

 
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The language barrier between English-speaking investigators and Spanish-speaking witnesses is a growing problem. (Updated 28 February 2011)

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