The U.S. criminal justice system is based on the presumption of innocence. So, when working on a case, the onus is on law enforcement to prove guilt beyond a “reasonable doubt”. Physical evidence is a core part of building that case, and any uncertainty about its integrity or unanswered question about how the evidence was handled at any step along the way can lead to crimes going unpunished. This premise is the foundation of why police departments must provide a secure chain of custody and proof that evidence is always handled and stored properly.
Chain of Custody
Chain of custody is the chronological documentation that shows the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of physical or electronic evidence. From the moment evidence is collected, every transfer of evidence from person to person and location to location needs to be documented and proven that no one but those involved have accessed the evidence.
Protection Starts Here
The journey of securely storing evidence starts in property rooms. These are typically staffed during the standard workday but evidence can be collected at all hours of the day and night. Temporary or short-term storage is needed to ensure evidence is properly logged and the chain of custody is kept secure between the time of officer collection and technician receipt. This is usually the weakest link in the chain of custody.
To help tighten this weak link in the chain of custody, Spacesaver offers two evidence locker options for departments to employ.
Pass-Thru Evidence Lockers
These lockers integrate into a wall that separates the evidence drop-off area from the long-term property and evidence room. Evidence is deposited on the drop-off side and retrieved by the evidence technician on the receiving side.
Non-Pass-Thru Evidence Lockers
Typically, these are installed in an evidence processing room or hallway outside the evidence room against the wall. An authorized employee removes the evidence with a specific key and transports it into the processing room.
For maximum tracking capability, a small bank of evidence lockers can be equipped with ControLoc Technology®, allowing technicians to access only one specific locker using an assigned PIN code and/or badge swipe.
Not All Evidence is the Same
General evidence is anything collected at a crime scene, much of which needs to be kept “forever,” causing evidence storage rooms to get out of hand quickly.
Save space and restrict access to evidence areas, taking evidence room management to another level. Accommodate large and bulky items with Spacesaver’s widespan shelving and heavy-duty racking.
High-Density Mobile Systems allow you to eliminate wasted aisle space, increase capacity, and optimize your department’s footprint.
High-profile evidence consists of narcotics, weapons, DNA evidence, cash, and valuables. This evidence has very different needs than general evidence, requiring a higher level of separation and security. International Association for Property & Evidence (IAPE) standards related to high-profile evidence state that this inventory needs to be stored separately from general evidence and there should be two forms of locked barriers to retrieve the items in these areas.
Powered mobile storage systems provide capability to segregate between evidence types and the ability to restrict access to certain items via a PIN or RFID code to increase security measures.
Spacesaver's Evidence Lockers also have card reader authorization for regulated entry and security and PIN-code authorization for controlled access, security and auditing supporting a secured chain of custody.
At the Illinois Metro Crime Lab, the local Spacesaver consultant saw that lab technicians needed compact, configurable storage based on the types of weapons that were being stored, so he suggested pairing high-density mobile shelving with a modular weapons rack. See how the configurable pegboard-style solution helped them organize their reference materials.
Proper weapons storage is essential in a public safety facility. Contact us to determine which weapons racks are the best for your department.
Many agencies require a refrigerated unit as part of their short-term and long-term evidence storage solutions for DNA evidence. These can include blood samples, sexual assault kits, and hair and skin samples taken from a crime scene. Certain types of DNA evidence will need to remain in liquid form, while some evidence must be dried before it is properly stored to prevent mold, bacteria, odors, and cross-contamination.
A climate-controlled DNA storage room in Frayser, Tenn., uses Spacesaver’s ActivRAC® system to store approximately 50,000 evidence kits. In addition to the DNA storage room, the space includes freezers, workstations, a crime scene investigation evidence room, and office space.
Planning for the Long-Term
By utilizing the expertise of Spacesaver’s vast network of local storage experts early in a project’s design phase, departments can lay the foundation for smart long-term storage right from the start. Spacesaver’s storage systems ensure large evidence rooms and warehouses can provide maximum storage capacity for vital materials as efficiently and securely as possible.
Off-site Evidence Projects
Spacesaver works alongside law enforcement personnel to design and manufacture the most efficient, secure, and innovative public safety products available. From evidence storage that protects the chain of custody to personal storage lockers and secure weapons storage, Spacesaver products are designed with safety and effectiveness in mind. Our high-quality, durable solutions along with market expertise will help your facility be a beacon of security and safety for the community.