JULY 2020 - IAPE Monthly Newsletter
Ask Joe...
Each month, IAPE's primary instructor and Executive Director, 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   Contact Us    

Dear Joe,
We have a question regarding transferring evidence via mail to the FBI.  How do you document or what is the best practice for evidence being sent via mail to another agency whereby they will be keeping the evidence?

Thank you,
Kathy Barber
Lower Moreland Police Dept.
Det. Secretary/Evidence Custodian

Dear Kathy,

Great question! I have included a great resource to the FBI Laboratory Forensic Service Unit that has an outstanding packaging and mailing instructions. In my many years of doing audits for departments,  I frequently run across departments,  on a weekly basis, drive substantial distances to their state crime lab for submission. One client was driving an hour  one way to the lab to conduct their business, and drive back to their department. The entire task would take about three hours. Frequently, I ask the question "why don't you mail the evidence to the lab and save three hours in time. If you take three hours a week driving,  that's nearly 4 weeks a year in time that could be better spent. The responses will be " What about the chain of custody?"  If you live in Idaho and had to send something to the FBI in Virginia, are you going to drive the evidence to the  crime lab? Of course not! So, if it is ok to mail to the FBI, why not mail to your lab if it's a substantial distance.  You would use established mailing protocols that most state crime labs utilize all the time.  Most labs will have specific requirements, forms, etc., and will more than likely require you to send the item(s) via carrier Fed-EX, UPS, USPS that can provide you with a reliable tracking system (Chain of Custody). Worst case scenario if the bullet from the most important homicide case  that your department ever had and don't trust the mail, you revert back to the old protocols - drive! But I guarantee you wouldn't be driving from Idaho to Virginia.

So, the answer to you question  considering using the instructions from the FBI Forensic Laboratory 2019 hand book. Selecting the Lab Icon will provide you with the entire document that has a tremendous amount of information regarding the packaging of different type of evidence and mailing instructions. Great resource !

All requests for evidence examinations should be in writing, on agency letterhead , and addressed to the FBI Laboratory Evidence Management Program, unless otherwise indicated in the Examinations section. 
NOTE: TEDAC ( The Terrorist Explosive  Analytical Center ) evidence submissions will be accepted with an accompanying TEDAC Evidence Submission Form. The TEDAC Evidence Submission form is a fillable PDF and specifies the required information for evidence submissions to TEDAC. Copies of this form are available on the Explosive Reference Tool Site (EXPERT), TEDAC Evidence Management Unit (EMU) FBINET site, or by contacting TEDAC EMU at 256-213-2360. 
Do not submit multiple cases under a single communication. Each case should be submitted with a separate communication and packaged separately. NOTE: Please 
See Explosives and Hazardous Devices Examinations Section for exemptions to this practice. 
All international law enforcement agency/police requests should be coordinated through the appropriate FBI legal attaché (LEGAT). LEGATs should coordinate with the Evidence Management Unit, prior to submitting any evidence to the Laboratory. Questions concerning international submissions should be directed to 703-632-8360. 

Requests for evidence examinations must contain the following information:

  • The submitting contact person's name, agency, address, and telephone number; 
  • Previous case-identification numbers, evidence submissions, and communications relating to the case; 
  • Description of the nature and the basic facts of the case as they pertain to evidence examinations; 
  • The name(s) of and descriptive data about the individual(s) involved (subject, suspect, victim, or a combination of those categories) and the agency-assigned, case-identification number; 
  • The violation;
  • Reason for expedited examination, if requested; 
  • The name of the relevant prosecutor's office or prosecutor assigned, if available; 
  • A list of the evidence being submitted and a copy of the letter should be included in all containers in which evidence has been shipped to the Laboratory. The letter should be in a separate envelope within the shipping container. 
  • What type(s) of examination(s) is/are requested;
    Where the evidence should be returned and where the Laboratory report should be 
  • sent (a street address and phone number must be included); and 
  • A statement if there is local controversy or if other law enforcement agencies have an interest in the case. 
  • Please see Explosives and Hazardous Devices Examinations Section for guidance on IED evidence retention and submission documentation. 
Unless otherwise indicated in a specific Examination section, follow the below guidelines for packaging and shipping evidence. Please keep in mind the FBI case acceptance guidelines and limitations in the Introduction section. 
  • Prior to packaging and shipping evidence, call the pertinent unit or the Evidence Management Unit for specific instructions. 
  • Take precautions to preserve the evidence. 
  • Wrap and seal each item of evidence separately to avoid contamination. 
  • Place the evidence in a clean, dry, and previously unused inner container. 
  • Seal the inner container with tamper-evident or lament tape. 
  • A x BIOHAZARD labels, if appropriate, on the inner container. If any of the evidence needs to be examined for latent prints, a x a label on the inner container. 
  • A copy of the evidence examination request should be submitted with each shipping container and it should be contained in a separate envelope from all evidence. 
  • Place the sealed inner container in a clean and dry outer container with clean packing material
  • Do not use loose Styrofoam. 
  • Completely seal the outer container so that tampering with the container would be evident. 
  • All shipments of suspected or confirmed hazardous materials must comply with U.S. Department of Transportation and International Air Transport Association regulations. Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) lists specific requirements that must be observed when preparing hazardous materials for shipment by air, land, or sea. In addition, the International Air Transport Association annually publishes Dangerous Goods Regulations detailing how to prepare and package shipments for air transportation. 
Title 49 CFR 172.101 provides a Hazardous Materials Table that identifies items considered hazardous for the purpose of transportation. Title 49 CFR 172.101 also addresses special provisions for certain materials, hazardous materials communications, emergency response information, and training requirements for shippers. A trained and qualified evidence technician must assist with the typing, labeling, packaging, and shipping of all hazardous materials. 
  • Further information regarding shipping of Hazardous Materials or potential Chemical/Biological/Radiological/Nuclear (CBRN) Material can be found in WMD/CBRN Evidence Examinations. 
  • U.S. Department of Transportation regulations and the following guidelines must be followed when shipping live ammunition: 
  • Package and ship ammunition separately from rearm(s).
    The outside of the container must be labeled "ORM-D, CARTRIDGES, SMALL ARMS." 
  • The Declaration of Dangerous Goods must include the number of packages and the gross weight in grams of the completed packages. 
Unless otherwise indicated in the Examinations section, address the outer container as follows: 


Ship evidence by trackable means such as U.S. Postal Service Registered Mail, UPS, or FedEx. 

Joe Latta
Executive Director
$150k is missing from Lancaster County Drug Task Force in reported 'internal theft'
 June 11, 2020

An internal review uncovered approximately $150,000 in seized cash is currently unaccounted for. The funds were seized during drug investigations.
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. - The Lancaster County Drug Task Force is under investigation by the State Attorney General's Office. An internal review uncovered $150,000 in seized money has gone missing.  The potential suspect or suspects likely had intimate knowledge of and access to the Drug Task force.
"There's no easy way to say this-and I'm not going to diminish its importance-this appears in every aspect to be an internal theft," stated Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams.
Adams would not name any suspects, but said there is limited authorized access to the Drug Task Force's seized money and assets.
Prior to this internal review, Adams said there had been virtually no checks on evidence held. The money had been seized from less than a dozen drug investigations between 2017 and 2019, before DA Adams took office in January 2020.
The money belonged to people charged with felony drug trafficking crimes. Some of the cases had been resolved, while others remain pending. Forfeiture funds can only be used by the county if the cases carry convictions.
"This money that is missing is primarily pre-forfeited money," explained Adams. "It was not available for our use and would have not impacted the financial crisis that we're all aware of last year."
For years, the Drug Task Force has faced a funding crisis. Former DA Craig Stedman-who is now a Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas Judge-said the county only funded 15 percent of the Drug Task Force's operating costs.
At the time, Judge Stedman also clashed with the county's Board of Commissioners over the spending of drug forfeiture funds. Judge Stedman found himself in the spotlight for using more than $21,000 in money meant for drug enforcement to lease a government car. Drug forfeiture funds are typically used to invest in crime fighting and community building tools. 
Adams said they have made sweeping changes to ensure seized money does not go missing again. The safeguards now in place eliminate the possibility of seized funds being accessed without oversight and record, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Specific changes that have taken place or are ongoing with the Drug Task Force include:
- Funds seized will now be held in a bank account, deposited on a regular basis, prior to order of forfeiture.
- A complete revamping of how evidence is stored, logged, transferred and destroyed.
- A one-way drop box will be used for cash when an authorized supervisor is not available.
- The secure area containing cash will be electronically auditable and monitored by camera.
- Annual audits of evidence seized will be performed by Lancaster County Detectives (with no role "We have put in place the proper controls, security measures, and checks and balances to significantly mitigate the risk of future misappropriations," said Adams.
While the State Attorney General's Office continues its investigation into the missing funds, the county will begin another audit of evidence held by the Drug Task Force, focusing on assets like guns seized. Adams said she has no reason to believe or expect to find any of the seized assets are missing.
Adams cautioned the public from judging any member or members of the Drug Task Force prior to the completion of the full investigation. Misconceptions based on broad assumptions made prior to the completion of the investigation could be devastating for the Drug Task Force detectives - and police everywhere - who sacrifice their lives every day to keep us all safe, said Adams.

  News: Commentary
Thefts of large amounts of money from property rooms never seem to surprise me and they occur all too often. 
In this article, the States Attorney Heather Adams stated she knows the following facts
  • $150,000 is missing
  • Suspect(s) "likely had intimate knowledge of and access to the Drug Task force, seized money".
  • "There had been no checks on the evidence held"
  • "There have been sweeping changes to ensure seized money does not go missing
You might ask, what are those sweeping changes?
Funds seized will now be held in a bank account, deposited on a regular basis, prior to order of forfeiture.
  • A complete revamping of how evidence is stored, logged, transferred and destroyed.
  • A one-way drop box will be used for cash when an authorized supervisor is not available.
  • The secure area containing cash will be electronically auditable and monitored by camera.
  • Annual audits of evidence seized will be performed by Lancaster County Detectives (with no role on the Drug Task Force).
Once again, why is it the only time we ever consider depositing money in the bank is after someone pilfers it? This just seems to be the facts. Show this story to your bosses if you aren't not already deposing all of you funds.


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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 law enforcement agency members as well as 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.

Need Training Right Now?

The Full online course class option is a great choice if you want much of the same training as the Live classes but without the travel and time away from the department. The IAPE Property and Evidence Management video Course is approximately 14 hours in length and was prepared by Law Enforcement Personnel for Law Enforcement Personnel. Completion of the course meets the training requirements for becoming a Certified Property and Evidence Specialist (CPES).

Below is a listing of our individual class options for those who may have limited time and want to get specific training in the most needed areas within the evidence room.

Audits and Inventories Video:  This module provides material useful to Property Room personnel as well as Auditors regarding the preparation for and procedure of conducting an audit of the Property Room. Additionally, you will also learn various aspects of conducting inventories and how they differ from audits.

Security Video:  This module focuses on the best ways to secure your Property Room as well as common mistakes that you should avoid. You will also learn about many types of products and procedures which will enhance the security of your facility. INCLUDES SPECIAL BONUS VIDEO ON ELECTRONIC SECURITY.

Documentation, Chain of Custody and Automation:  These 2 video modules provide an understanding of the Chain of Custody within the property room, along with an overview of the various internal controls needed to properly track and manage you evidence when it leaves your department for court, crime lab or out for investigations . Additionally, the video also discusses the advantages of automating the tracking process, Found Property and Property for Safekeeping.

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