25.00.020 COLLECTION/SUBMITTING EVIDENCE (CALEA 83.2.1, .2.6, 3.1, & 84.1.1)
Physical evidence collected by members of this Department will be properly marked, logged, inventoried and entered into Department records as soon as possible. The investigator’s report will provide an accurate description of the property and the circumstances by which the property came into the Department’s possession. Chain of custody records will be maintained from collection, throughout the criminal evidence process and all property/evidence will be placed in control of the Property and Evidence Unit prior to the end of the employee’s work shift.
Physical evidence which supports the incident investigation will be developed, collected and preserved in accordance with standard practice. All officers and investigators will have a basic knowledge of evidence processing and collection as taught by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center’s Police Academy.
The first rule of evidence collection is to secure and protect the crime scene. Employees will process a crime scene in an orderly progression of tasks. For example, observe, photograph or sketch the scene when necessary, identify the location of evidence, fingerprints, obtain impressions, mark and collect evidence.
Employees will take care to prevent the introduction of foreign materials into the process so as not to contaminate potential evidence.
All field officers assigned to the Patrol Section, excluding Traffic officers, will carry an evidence processing kit containing essential tools for evidence processing. Such tools include but are not limited to fingerprint powder, brushes, cards, tape, ruler, and evidence bags. When more advanced crime scene processing is required, an employee designated as an “evidence technician” who has received advanced evidence processing and collection training may be utilized.
When extensive processing is required, the Investigations Section Van, which is equipped with additional crime scene processing materials, may be utilized by requesting its use through a patrol supervisor.
Care must be taken by employees to insure the reliability and safety of all evidence and, when appropriate, employees must wear gloves/protective clothing. Department policy will be complied with when dealing with airborne and blood borne pathogen evidence.
If an item of evidence is seized that is bloody or “hazmat sensitive” such as bloody clothing, a property custodian must be notified regardless of the time of day. The property custodian will meet the evidence collector at the property room to receive the item and place it in a secured, ventilated drying room.
Items of exceptional value (money, jewelry, etc.) must be clearly identified as such for the property custodian so that the item may be placed in a secured safe within the property room.
Employees collecting materials or substances as evidence must also collect a sample from a known source (control sample) available, for submission to the laboratory for comparison with physical evidence collected. The location from which samples from a known source are taken is critical where fractures have occurred, such as in the case of wood, glass, paint, and metal. Other examples include but are not limited to collection of hairs, fibers, fabrics, blood, paint, glass, wood, soil, and tool marks.
The officer who processes the crime/traffic scene will prepare a case report concurrent with a crime scene or collision investigation. The report should include the following information:
v Date and time of first arrival at scene
v Location of crime/accident
v Name of victim, if known
v Name of suspect, if known
v Actions taken at the scene (photographs, measurements, etc.)
v List of physical evidence items recovered
v Case file reference number
v List of personnel entering/leaving the crime scene
A Detective or Traffic scene investigator summoned to assist with an investigation and additional personnel involved in the investigation will prepare a detailed follow-up case report which includes the date and time a request for services was received, the name of the initial investigating officer, the disposition of physical evidence, including photographs and scene measurements.
Physical evidence obtained by investigating officers will be marked at the time of collection. Such mark(s) will include the officer’s initials, evidence item number and the date using a property evidence tag marked with an indelible pen in a location that will not mutilate or destroy the value of the evidence. If it is not possible or practical to mark directly on evidence, it will be placed in a proper container which will then be sealed and marked.
Officers will seal the evidence in a proper container. The seal will consist of evidence tape or clear heavy duty sealing tape and the seal will be marked with the officer’s initials.
Evidence too large to be placed in a container will have an evidence tag or label affixed to it. This is in addition to any marks placed directly on the item by the investigating officer.
Properly marked evidence items will be secured in lockers in the Station Evidence Entry Room and the locker locked after evidence has been placed therein.
Evidence labels, tags and containers must contain the information necessary for proper identification, storage and integrity maintenance. This information will include, but is not limited to the following:
v Property evidence number containing the officer’s initials and the evidence item number. Example: ABC1 (ABC: officer’s initials, 1: item number)
v The evidence collector’s name
v Location and time the evidence was collected
v Date the item was placed into evidence
v The case number
v A description of the evidence
Detailed information on evidence packaging is located in the Department Property/Evidence Manual.
Currency being paced in the Property/Evidence Unit must be counted by the officer and witnessed by another person, prior to booking it in. Currency must be placed in a Currency Evidence Envelope prior to booking it into the Property/Evidence Entry Room.
Currency in any amount must be placed by the officer in the locked safe located in the Evidence Entry Room.
All currency maintained in the Property/Evidence Unit will be held in the currency safe located in the Gun Room.
Small items of value such as precious metals, jewelry and gems will be placed in the Property/Evidence Unit currency safe.
Narcotic and dangerous drug evidence will be inventoried, weighed, and witnessed by another person prior to being placed in evidence. Misdemeanor amounts of marijuana (less that 40 grams) DO NOT require witness by another person. Narcotics will be placed in sealed containers wherever possible, prior to being booked into the Evidence Entry Room.
Sealed narcotics and their containers will be inspected by Property/Evidence personnel when they are being processed into and out of the Property/Evidence Unit. Broken, altered or otherwise damaged narcotic containers are to be reported immediately to the Administrative Services Commander.
All narcotics will be maintained in a separate and secure area within the Property/Evidence Unit. Narcotics, other than marijuana, with an estimated value of $500.00 or more (as determined by the officer's report) will be stored in the safe located in the Drug Room.
Marijuana “Grow” Evidence
The following steps will be taken when placing marijuana plants from a grow operation into evidence:
v Photograph the entire number of plants
v Mark/tag a random sample for analysis. (A sufficient number of plants should be analyzed). Samples for analysis must be in a separate evidence envelope
v The entire number of plants should then be photographed again to show which plants of the total number were taken as a sample for analysis
v All of the marijuana must then be weighed to establish quantity/weight involved. This should be done with the plants only and should not include the pots or soil
v The random sample should be analyzed as well as an adequate amount should remain after analysis to allow a defense attorney the opportunity to analyze a sample if needed
The remaining marijuana may then be destroyed.
All weapons will be maintained in a separate and secure area within the Property/Evidence Unit in the Gun Room.
An inventory of all weapons stored in the Property/Evidence Unit will be maintained by the Property Unit Supervisor.
Any evidence which consists of materials suspected or known by the officer to be classified as hazardous materials will not be received or stored in the Property/Evidence Unit until such evidence has been rendered safe for storage by the Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team or the Department’s Hazardous Devices Unit.