Letter to the Editor

Additional thoughts on securing
property-and-evidence rooms, inside and out

As a fire investigator and the owner of a security/fire installing company, I found the article on securing property and evidence (P&E) in the last issue of Evidence Technology Magazine (“How Secure is Your Evidence?”, Volume 7, Number 5, pages 18-20) to be lacking some critical information on keeping them secure.

First, the lock on the door should always use what are generally known as restricted-level keyways. These keys cannot be copied at just any locksmith or hardware store. They are specially designed and cut and require a special plastic ID card to be presented to the locksmith before a copy can be made. This ensures keys to the P&E room are only in the hands of the people who are authorized to have them.

Second, when discussing the alarm system, do not forget to add a smoke detector in the room. Many small buildings have limited fire protection, or no fire protection at all.

Also, the security system and card-access system (if used) should be UL listed, commercial-grade equipment, and both systems should have event-logging capabilities to show who armed or disarmed a system and/or entered the room.

The alarm signal, if monitored off-site, should have both a primary path (such as a phone line) and a secondary path (such as a cellular or two-way radio back-up) in case the first one fails or is compromised.

A P&E room should be secured similarly to a bank vault. Following the UL burglar standard for this type of installation will help ensure items stay secure—especially if items being stored will be used in a criminal case or could otherwise be desirable to criminals, such as firearms.

Setting up a P&E room takes many areas to look at and consider, depending on the level of risk.

—Nick Markowitz Jr.
Markowitz Electric Protection
Verona, Pennsylvania
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

John Vasquez, author of the article “How Secure is Your Evidence?” (in the Volume 7, Number 5 issue of Evidence Technology Magazine) replies:

This article was designed to promote security awareness, regardless of the size of the agency or their budget. The suggestions from Mr. Markowitz are sound and desirable methods of security and most large agencies have those security measures. In reality, however, a majority of agencies are doing well to have a closet or a small converted office designated as the P&E room, and a solid-core metal door is the most they can afford.

As a consultant, I inform the client of the better/best solutions for their security measures. Then we work down to security measures that fit within their budget and find ways to stretch their budget. Working with small agencies with little to no budget is especially gratifying when you know that you have significantly increased their level security on a shoestring budget!

—John Vasquez
Mission:Control Consulting Group, LLC
Wichita Falls, Texas
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

"Letter to the Editor"
November-December 2009 (Volume 7, Number 6)
Evidence Technology Magazine
Buy Back Issue

< Prev   Next >

Interview with an Expert

One of the more specialized areas of crime-scene investigation has to do with searching for evidence of arson. To get some background in this area, we spoke with an individual who has had more than 46 years in fire service, 24 of which have focused specifically on fire/arson investigation.