Each month, IAPE's primary instructor, Joe Latta, answers one of your questions. Consider writing us if you have a question that needs an answer. We would love to hear from you.
My department has an automated property system with barcoding for tracking evidence. Officers enter items they are submitting to Property directly into the property room via a locker system. My staff verifies the officer's information and generates a refusal form for evidence that is incorrectly booked.
It has been suggested to me that my staff (Property Clerks), should make the corrections for the officers (e.g.: edit the officer's property paperwork to show correct information, etc.) Do you know if there is anything in writing that discourages property personnel from editing the property record or correcting packaging errors?
To me it's a conflict of interest. Any help you give is greatly appreciate
The IAPE standards addresses the Right of Refusal very clearly in Standard 3.1:Packaging Requirements. In our opinion, the submitting officer should be responsible for his or her own corrections. If the item was submitted during a trial any questions asked about the packaging and documentation the officer can't say he doesn't know how the item got packaged or documented in a specific way. Additionally, if Property Room staff members continually correct the mistakes the submitting personnel will continue making the same mistakes.
The policy should instruct the officer where the item for correction needs to be secure and that they need to correct by specific time and re-submit back to the property room.
The recommended time for return would be on by the end of the officer's next tour of duty. If problems continue, it is always recommended that the Correction Notices be sent to the officer's, the Property Room Supervisors. In those instances where the corrections are not handled in a timely manner, the Property Supervisor should notify the submitting officer's first-line supervisor.
Standard 3.1: Packaging Requirements
Definition - RIGHT OF REFUSAL is the authority given to the property officer to reject and notify the booking officer that property or evidence is improperly packaged or documented, and needs correction
Departmental policy should clearly state that any deviation in packaging methods that does not meet the property unit's standards will be refused and the booking officer shall be notified through normal channels to correct the problem. This principle is known as the "Right of Refusal".
For our regular followers of the Newsletter and Evidence we are continuously talking about EVENTS AND TRENDS that may have some type of impact on the long term storage of evidence.
Just Monday of this week the governor of Washington signed a bill that eliminates the statute of limitation for sex crime involving minors which can create a scenario where the evidence could be held forever. Does this impact the Property Room?
The second story was from a state of Georgia news story where a state Senator has recommended that requires that any investigating agency maintain evidence containing biological material for 50 years or the length of the statute of limitations, whichever is greater. In February this was just a bill. There seems to a TREND developing that property rooms are going to be keeping more evidence for much longer periods of time. Be ready!
New law changes statute of limitations for sex crimes in Washington
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Survivors of certain sex crimes no longer have to worry about how long they have to report the crime to authorities in Washington state.
On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee signed
Senate Bill 5649
into law, eliminating the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving minors. Under the current law juvenile sexual assault victims have until they are 30 years old to report the crime.
also raises the statute of limitations for rape involving adults from 10 to 20 years.
Dinah Griffey has been fighting to change the law for the past five years. Griffey said she was sexually abused as a child, but police told her it was too late to press charges when she reported the crime years later.
She said the legislation signed by Inslee Friday will send a message to other sex crime survivors and gives them hope.
"Those words, 'We believe you,' mean more to survivors than almost anything else," Griffey said. "Now the state of Washington is in support of them and they know it."
The law goes into effect this summer.
Moved by CNN investigation, Georgia lawmaker proposes storing rape kits for at least 50 years
Inspired by a CNN investigation that revealed law enforcement agencies nationwide improperly destroyed rape kits, a Georgia lawmaker introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at preventing that from happening in his state.
"We have an obligation, if and when we find the perpetrator of a sex crime, that we bring cases. And we do that with all the evidence possible to win," said Rep. Scott Holcomb, a former prosecutor.
CNN's investigation, "Destroyed," surveyed more than 200 police departments and sheriff's offices around the country and found that 25 agencies in 14 states trashed rape kits in unsolved reported sex crimes while the statutes of limitations were still running. The destruction followed flawed and incomplete investigations and most kits were never tested for DNA. The practice of destroying kits was routine and occurred with little to no oversight, CNN found.
While Georgia and other states have grappled with backlogs of untested kits, the destruction of that evidence is a more fundamental crisis. The kits are gone and can never be used to lock up a rapist or exonerate the wrongfully convicted.
Holcomb's bill requires that any investigating agency maintain evidence containing biological material for 50 years or the length of the statute of limitations, whichever is greater.
That mirrors the federal government's guidance. The National Institute of Justice recommends maintaining rape kits in "uncharged or unsolved reported cases" for at least 50 years or the length of the statute of limitations.
In Georgia, there is no statute of limitations for rape, aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery as long as the suspect remains unknown. If the suspect is known, the statute of limitations is 15 years.
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston applauded Holcomb's legislation. The challenge of investigating sexual assault cases, she said, is that law enforcement may have an offender's DNA and know that the same profile has turned up at other crime scenes "but it may take decades for that person to actually be identified."
Certified Evidence Specialist
Along with the IAPE's extensive
evidence training courses
, the IAPE offers our members the opportunity to become Certified Property and Evidence Specialists.
Certification is available to our law enforcement agency members as well as our corporate members. The designation of CPES or CCPES indicates that the holder is a professional who has completed requirements in training; has worked in the field for a required period of time; and has demonstrated their knowledge of professional standards through a written test. More than 2,000 IAPE members have achieved the CPES or CCPES designation.
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