Organization Profile - IAPE

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International Association of Property and Evidence, Inc.

Year Created:
1993

Stated Mission:
“IAPE is dedicated and committed to provide education and training pertaining to all aspects of the handling, storage, maintenance and disposal of law enforcement held property and evidence.”

Number of Members:
4,500—with members from all 50 United States and Canada

Discipline Served:
Property and evidence units

Headquarters:
Burbank, California

Website:
www.iape.org

To learn more about the IAPE and the work it does to serve property-and-evidence rooms, we talked with Executive Director and Lead Instructor Joseph T. Latta.

Does the IAPE offer any certifications?

We have a certification program called the Certified Property and Evidence Specialist that we have had about 1,100 people go through. It has been a really great tool for property people. We are trying to recognize this as a profession, as opposed to simply a title of “property clerk”. I think we have accomplished that with this certification program and our training classes.

What kind of training does the IAPE offer?

We offer a two-day course that covers in-depth training in “best practices” for evidence and property room management. We generally average about 25 classes each year, and they are taught in locations all across the United States and Canada—as well as our online classes. I would also say that 100 percent of our classes are the result of being invited by law-enforcement agencies, because somebody has been to the class before and wants to sponsor a class for other law-enforcement personnel in the area.

What publications does the IAPE offer?

Members receive a free subscription to our quarterly publication, The Evidence Log. We also offer a book that I authored, Property and Evidence by the Book, 2nd Edition, that has comprehensive information about the management of the property room. And on our website, we have posted a 79-page document that is available for anyone to download, called IAPE Professional Standards, that provides some good guidelines and best business practices for operating property-and-evidence rooms.

What challenges do property-and-evidence rooms currently face?

One of the biggest problems that we face in property rooms is finding sufficient time to do the job. Every item of evidence that comes into a property room has an element of time attached to it. It doesn’t matter if you are taking in ten items a week or 1,000 items a week: it is almost a universal issue that we are not scheduling enough hours to complete the task of taking those items in, storing them, and purging them. The goal of any property room should be a one-item-in to one-item-out ratio. So, we typically get so far behind that working in that property room and controlling inventory becomes almost impossible and, in most cases, ten-times more labor intensive than it needs to be.

How can that problem be overcome?

It is all related to staffing and time, and controlling the inventory. When you lose people to layoffs, you lose control of the inventory. And it will cost you. Let’s say your agency falls behind and you have 100,000 items in the property room. If our economy ever turns around, and you decide you want to get control of those items as you are running out of space, you will need to bring in a substantially larger workforce to do the research and get control of the inventory. So, you pay for it now… or you pay for it later.

What other projects is the IAPE involved in?

The IAPE is currently a member of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation. The members of this task force are in the process of developing guidelines for the handling of biological evidence in law-enforcement agency property rooms. The goal is to create a document for law enforcement that explains how to collect, pack, and store this biological evidence, because right now, no one does it the same way. There are departments that freeze everything. There are departments that freeze nothing. And there are a tremendous number of items out there that should have been sent to the crime lab for testing and entry to the CODIS database, but some departments don’t even realize it exists.

How do you think the guidelines that come out of this working group will benefit property rooms?

I honestly believe this technical working group is going to be a great plus for us in property rooms, because maybe, down the line, there will be some funding out there to help us solve our problems. Because it is really easy to say, “Let’s just save the biological evidence.” Well, we need to have the resources to save it: the space, the personnel, the computers, the tracking, and everything else. That has been the key goal of the IAPE: Getting the word out there, so that police administrators understand some of our huge challenges.


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