April 2014 - IAPE Monthly Newsletter

Ask Joe!

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. To submit a question for Joe to answer here, use our Contact Us page.


Dear Joe:


We have recently been receiving an inordinate amount of grow equipment, including large light bulbs, ballasts, exhausts fans, hoses etc. We currently have 3 cargo containers of grow equipment of which nothing has ever been taken to court. Never! How are other departments handling this dilemma? Secondly, when the case is adjudicated, how are departments disposing of the items?



            Gotta Lota


Dear Gotta Lota,


As we have said in our classes many times, no one does it the same.  So, what I will do is provide a short outline of what we have seen going around the country.


  • State Statue

In some states there are laws allowing the immediate disposal as illustrated in Florida's law. "After a law enforcement agency documents the manufacturing equipment by photography or video recording, the manufacturing equipment may be destroyed on site and left in disrepair. The law enforcement agency destroying the equipment is immune from civil liability for the destruction of the equipment. The destruction of the equipment must be recorded by the supervising law enforcement officer in the manner described in 893.12(1)(a), and records must be maintained for 24 months."


  • Court Order

In some counties, with concurrence of the prosecutor, departments have sought a court order for the destruction before the case has gone to trial after obtaining photographic proof of the destruction.


  • Department Policy

With approval of the prosecutor, some departments have summarily destroyed and used the photographs for court.


  • Destroy At Site

There are some departments that have destroyed or rendered in operable at the site, photographed, and left at the location.


  • Keep Forever

Some agencies just keep it forever, just because!



The second part of your question on how departments actually dispose of these items when the case has been adjudicated.  The answer is the same, you name it we do it! Some methods that you may never have considered.

  • Recycling

Some agencies will take the items to a scrap metal business and sell it, with the proceeds going to the city or county.


  • Auto Dismantler

Some agencies will take to a scrap metal to a local auto dismantler The auto dismantler will probably do for nothing as they are getting the metal.


  • Donation

Another "out of the box" thought is to donate the lights and ballasts, etc. to a zoo or schools or any other "out of the box" solution.


  • Auction

One of the most "out of the box" solutions has recently evolved is actually auctioning the items. Some would argue we couldn't do that as it may encourage someone to grow dope. Fact is the all of the lamps, ballasts etc. are not illegal to possess and any one an purchase these item online for legitimate use. Propertyroom.com has been selling grow equipment for years without question. According to propertyroom.com they have about 350 department that routinely auction this type of property. 


  • Washington and Colorado Solution

In 2014 both states authorized the sale of small amounts and any many cases their intake has dramatically slowed!




Joe Latta

Headline Of The Month 

Be Careful Of What You

Show Your Friends


Published: March 22, 2014  

Los Angeles Times  


Judge Uphold Firing of Police Officer Who Shared Rihanna Injury Photos



Los Angeles, CA

Former L.A. police officer Rebecca Reyes has maintained that she did not give the photo evidence of the singer's injuries to gossip site TMZ. But a superior court judge backed a disciplinary panel, saying it was right to fire Reyes in 2012.


Judge has upheld the firing of a police officer who distributed an evidence photo showing injuries singer Rihanna sustained after she was attacked by then boyfriend Chris Brown. The photo found its way onto the celebrity website TMZ, the Associated Press reports. 


Former Los Angeles police officer Rebecca Reyes took a picture of an evidence photo but told a judge Thursday that she didn't send it to the gossip site and had only taken the photo show to other officers and acquaintances, court filings state.


Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin agreed with a disciplinary panel and Police Chief Charlie Beck to fire Reyes in 2012. Lavin also concluded that evidence supports Reyes's having "participated in the release of the photography showing Ms. Fenty's injuries to TMZ."


"At a minimum, the public is entitled to protection from unprofessional employees whose conduct places people at risk of injury and the government at risk of incurring liability," Lavin wrote in his ruling, AP reports.

After the hearing, Reyes's attorney Ira Salzman told AP that he was disappointed by the ruling and reiterated that his client did not leak the image to TMZ. He disagreed with Lavin's descriptions of his client as unprofessional, saying she "made a singular mistake."


"Rebecca Reyes is an outstanding person and was an outstanding officer," Salzman said.


In the hours after the Rihanna attack, at her precinct Reyes saw an evidence photo of the singer that showed injuries. Reyes snapped a photo of the image to share with others, including a former girlfriend, who records show called TMZ.


The ex-girlfriend Blanca Lopez, who is also a Los Angeles police officer, told investigators she called the celebrity news site only to verify the attack details that Reyes had shared with her.



Departments across the country are tightening up their policies and procedures related to officers using their own camera (phone camera) on duty along with the the methods that we secure our digital evidence. Several years ago the California paid over $2 Millions dollars when a trooper shared graphic photographs from a fatal traffic collision that went viral on the internet.  


As a bit of wisdom - develop policies where officers can't use their personal camera (phone camera) on duty and that all digital evidence needs to be secured and controlled like your guns, drugs and money.  There may be exigent circumstance that could be an exception to the rule.  


I've Got Something You Don't Have!
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Feel free to contact us with any questions:
Joe Latta Executive Director | 800-449-4273 | jlatta@iape.org
903 N San Fernando Blvd 4  |  Burbank, CA 91504
International Association for Property & Evidence, Inc. | iape.org

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