Evidence Management – How You Can Track Evidence From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom
November 23, 2015
In evidence management, losing a key piece of evidence is every law enforcement officer’s worst nightmare. You may know that a defendant is guilty or innocent based on a bloody jacket, bullet casing, contract, or even an email, but if you can’t produce this proof in court, you can’t bring justice to the victims. Unfortunately, the evidence is mishandled, lost, or tampered with more often than most police departments would care to admit. The current state of affairs is far from ideal, but fortunately, Tracker Products is working to improve it. Our state-of-the-art evidence management software, SAFE (Shared Archive For Evidence) can help you track essential evidence. With our system, you can keep your information secure and, better yet, successfully retrieve and review it to solve your cases. Read on to learn more about how you can track evidence from the crime scene to the courtroom.
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One of the most important obligations of a law enforcement organization is to carefully maintain clear, coherent records. NOLO Law for All states: “the government has a duty to preserve certain types of evidence it collects during criminal investigations and prosecutions. This duty exists in order to protect a defendant’s rights to due process and a fair trial under the Sixth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.” The evidence your agency brings to the courtroom can quite literally and significantly change lives, so it is your responsibility to track it appropriately.
However, this doesn’t always occur. In his recent Prison Legal News magazine article, Matthew Clarke highlights this issue: “the problem with misplaced and improperly destroyed evidence is much more widespread” than it would seem. He notes: “Not just crime labs, but local police departments and sheriff’s offices often store evidence in a haphazard fashion that makes retrieving it virtually impossible.” Clarke also quotes John Vasquez, an evidence management veteran with his own consulting firm: “according to Vasquez, the loss or improper destruction of evidence is ‘way more common than you think.’”
Similarly, in his Law Enforcement Today article, “Lost Evidence, Lost Case?” David Waksman describes several instances of damaged, misplaced, or otherwise mismanaged evidence. He describes how savvy law enforcement officials were able to work around these mistakes to make their cases. He concludes: “I am not suggesting that we should lose things, but accidents do happen. Be prepared for them and try to lessen their impact.”
Of course, human fallibility is a factor, but in the twenty-first century of criminal investigation, there’s a lot you can do to optimize your operations. SAFE can help you hold on to and utilize your evidence with the power of digital technology.
The first step in tracking your evidence is collecting it from the crime scene. If the evidence is from something like the home security camera angles from the crime scene, you can quickly input digital data into our software for safe keeping. When it comes to physical evidence, you can successfully track it by tagging it with a barcode and scanning it into the SAFE system using our mobile application. Our barcode functionality can help you find important items more quickly and easily while creating a log of them.
Evidence is effectively meaningless unless it’s been examined. To put together a timeline of events, identify suspects, consider plausible scenarios, and make your case, you’ll need to compare, contrast, and cross-reference your data. SAFE is the only software that allows you to analyze digital and physical evidence side by side. This function could allow you to pinpoint connections you might have otherwise missed and make the most of your (securely stored) case information.
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In some instances, police reports are just as pivotal as witness testimonies or key evidence in the courtroom. Our software integrates with RMS (Records Management Systems) and CAD (Computer-Aided Dispatch) using standard API (Application Programming Interface) so you can more easily write and submit statements. In addition, SAFE’s customizable features allow you to author ad hoc reports that suit your specific purposes. Our software also automates review dates and alerts to help your team send in reports on schedule.
Going to Court
SAFE helps law enforcement agencies with every aspect of the evidence, from the first moment it’s collected at the crime scene to its day in court. When it’s time to present your case to the judge and jury, our tracking system can enhance the credibility of your evidence. Our software:
- Establishes a clear chain of custody, since users must log in and meet certain security requirements to access it. SAFE protects your evidence to help make sure it is admissible.
- Is compliant with IAPE (the International Association for Property and Evidence), CALEA (the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act), CJIS (Criminal Justice Information Services), and FISMA (the Federal Information Security Management Act).
- Upgrades regularly (at absolutely no charge to you) to maintain the latest standards for quality and safety in evidence management.
Contact Tracker Products Today
If you’d like to better track your evidence from the crime scene to the courtroom, Tracker Products can help. Contact us today to learn more about SAFE or sign up for your free version to see what this sophisticated software can do for you.