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Audits: Crucial For Preserving the Integrity of Evidence

January 20, 2021

To protect the integrity of evidence that is stored within law enforcement facilities, we encourage you to incorporate audits as a part of your agency’s protocol. Below, we talk about how Tracker’s SAFE software can facilitate the implementation of this accountability process for evidence custodians. 

Primarily, the purpose of an audit is to measure compliance to the standards and best practices of your law enforcement agency. Audits also gauge the effectiveness of your organizational process to see if you are effectively tracking and managing your evidence. Are you doing what the lab requires? Are you adhering to the state’s requirements? Are you following our own agency’s policies and procedures? 

This is critical, because if you have agency practices that don’t conform, a court of law may find you liable. 

When you do an audit, you can go through a percentage of the items in a room and document the compliance of those items. By documenting the review of compliance, you automatically create a detailed report of each selected item.

You can also write down the basic demographic information, read the Tracker Products’ scanning information – and review several pieces of information about the item – to see whether it was: located quickly, stored in the right place, packaged and labeled to standards, and finally, whether it’s eligible for disposal. Those four pieces of information are incredibly useful for you when reviewing the operation protocols of an agency. 

RELATED: TWO KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL EVIDENCE MANAGEMENT

So, if it took more than five minutes to find that item, then you may have organizational problems. If that item wasn’t found in the correct location, you can see that there are storage-protocol problems. If an item is packaged or labeled incorrectly, then you’ve got procedural issues that need to be dealt with. Finally, if an item is eligible for disposal and it’s still on the shelf, you can see that there are disposition problems; due to a fallible chain of custody. 

But, how are items selected? The Tracker Products’ SAFE software will generate a random list – whether it’s a number of items or a percentage – and you can then select specific categories to audit. Let’s say you want to audit drug items, you’d go through and select all the drug locations and either select a percentage of items or a specific number to investigate. 

RELATED: EVIDENCE MANAGEMENT: THE GUY WHO GOT IT RIGHT!

Another benefit of audits – that isn’t necessarily related to package or file audits – is how they help to measure workflow. In Tracker Products’ SAFE software there are key performance indicators (KPI’s) that evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity like evidence transfer. 

You can also review how many items you’ve got coming in and going out, for a better understanding of where there’s room for improvement. And, when you find problems, you can immediately assign a task to someone who will be held accountable for resolving it. All of this can be done right there, within the software. 

We recommend that law enforcement agencies perform an audit at least once a year and that an independent representative(s) be present to provide objectivity.

If an agency has never done an audit, then they know nothing – and can prove nothing – about their own operations. Which means those agencies will also have glaring problems to deal with in the future. Luckily, it doesn’t have to come to that. Using Tracker Products SAFE software can help reshape your evidence management landscape, starting today. 

Tracker Products and The Evidence Management Institute want to give you something productive to think about during this time of uncertainty… a series of free evidence management training and panel discussions. Watch and comment on the recordings here, or – to get in on the discussion – join the Evidence Management Community Forum.

Tracker Product’s SAFE evidence tracking software is more than just barcodes and inventory control, it’s end-to-end chain of custody software for physical and digital evidence, resolving each of the critical issues facing evidence management today. To learn more about Tracker Products, CLICK HERE.

Or, if you’re interested in Evidence Management Training from our partner company, VISIT EMI HERE.