If you’ve watched the TV show “CSI,” you know that the police property room can play a vital role in establishing guilt or innocence. Proper storage – climate control, contamination control, and custody — is an essential part of a well-run property room. Occasionally, however, property room managers have to find storage for unexpected items, far beyond the usual blood samples and weapons.
In Sarasota Springs, Florida, for example, a tour of the property room uncovers:
- A statue of the Virgin Mary
- An odd-shaped sculpture affectionately known as “Dominick.”
- A stone lawn jockey
In Los Angeles, the UCLA campus police are storing, among all the lost purses and unidentified dorm keys:
- Frozen poisoned fish
- A bicycle with a hidden sword
The Los Angeles Police Department has equally odd items:
- A stuffed armadillo
- Fruit and nuts
- Garden hoses and fishing rods
Police departments have to keep track of everything stored, and maintain it all in exactly the same condition it was received. This is where the storage experts come in, with custody-tracking systems and high density storage that can accommodate all the odd shapes, sizes, and types of property or evidence that is collected as part of a case.
No matter what is stored, each item tells a story. We’d love to hear the story behind the poisoned fish, and we’d love to hear about your unusual storage challenges too. Let us know what your story is!
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The Supreme Court recently upheld a federal law requiring the confiscation of guns in cases of domestic violence. This ruling created a perplexing question for police departments across the country: Where to store all the confiscated guns?
In some states – California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, for example – guns are confiscated at the time of arrest, long before a case ever goes to court. They must all be held in the property room pending the outcome of the trial. Under North Carolina law, seized guns are only destroyed if they are non-working or missing a serial number; they may be sold, but selling them has proven to be an unpopular option, and the accumulation of unclaimed guns has only added to the burden of property room supervisors.
Unlike other forms of property held by the police, confiscated guns represent a significant risk to the public and to law enforcement if not stored with complete security. Even if a property room has the space, just adding shelves and bins is not an adequate storage solution. As storage consultants know, guns must be stored in specialized secure lockers in order to keep them out of the hands of unauthorized individuals.
Good intentions sometimes have unintended consequences, and police departments are learning what those consequences mean for their property rooms. If you’re managing a property room, talk to a storage pro about additional gun lockers.
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The FBI’s CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) helps local law enforcement identify suspects by comparing DNA evidence to DNA profiles in the CODIS database. It is a powerful tool for clearing cold cases, but now defense attorneys routinely look for a break in the chain of evidence, hoping to rule out a DNA match linking their client to a crime. If a property room cannot prove that DNA was properly stored and properly secured, the evidence becomes suspect and a judge may summarily dismiss the case.
Added to chain-of-evidence issues are changes in state laws requiring retention of DNA evidence for longer periods, as well as increases in the length of the statute of limitations. Writing in the FBI’s “Focus On Forensics,” William Kiley discusses how CODIS and statutory changes place great pressure on property rooms where space, security, and environmental controls are a challenge (http://1.usa.gov/1DzUwQJ). It’s a complex problem, and the solutions aren’t always readily apparent. Luckily, there are high-density storage systems with security controls designed specifically for long-term evidence storage. Even more important, the experts at Systematics can help explain the options.
Got questions? We’ve got answers…
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When police investigators examine a crime, they collect bits and pieces of evidence by the dozen, everything from DNA evidence to the proverbial “smoking gun.” Every item has to be catalogued and stored for the use of detectives and courts, and without a well-organized high density storage system, key evidence can go missing. In cases involving capital murder, missing evidence can send the wrong person to death row, or set a murderer free. Evidence expert John Vasquez discusses several such cases in a story for The Austin Chronicle, including that of accused murderer Hank Skinner and the blood-stained jacket that could exonerate him, or send him to death row – a jacket which has disappeared from the police evidence room: http://bit.ly/1mAK3h0
Got questions? We’ve got answers…
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