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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 202048 Find in a Library
Title: Cleaning the Evidence Closet
Journal: Law Enforcement Technology  Volume:30  Issue:8  Dated:August 2003  Pages:40,42,46
Author(s): Jennifer Mertens
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 6
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses ways for police departments to organize evidence.
Abstract: The Santa Clara Police Department (California) is a mid-size department that has mastered the art of managing evidence. In 1989 the department began using barcoding and a computer database to track and store its collected evidence. Years of evidence mounted and the result was a property room disaster, overflowing with unorganized evidence. New property mixed with dated property, and officers were not able to decipher what was old from what was recently added. How items are stored in an evidence room can make all the difference. Overflowing boxes in the Santa Clara evidence room have been replaced with compact individually labeled envelopes that are organized chronologically and by seriousness of crime. Four or five different sized envelopes provide the variation needed for different sizes of evidence. As evidence ages, it is rotated to the front of the shelving system, making it possible to locate the oldest or newest items. A new database system, hosted by software package FileMaker Pro, has given the department a means of efficiently entering, tracking, and managing its evidence collection. Officers directly enter the evidence information into the database, which automatically prints labels and a property report. As evidence is entered, the FileMaker program generates a 4-inch-by-4-inch label with a barcode directly from the database. It is attached to the envelope and stored in the appropriate area of the evidence room. A wireless interface was built into the program so the evidence clerk can scan a barcode and retrieve a complete history on the piece of evidence. The database software has the ability to collaborate with other computer programs.
Main Term(s): Evidence preservation; Police management
Index Term(s): Administrative planning; Chain of custody; Computer aided operations; Evidence; Evidence collection; Police staff management
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