July 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:


Do you know or have you heard of a good way to estimate current and/or future evidence storage or space needs?



Ned M. Space


Dear Ned M. Space,


The simple answer is NO!

When it comes to managing our property and evidence rooms, our number one issue, consistently is the lack of space. The question really has to be is there really a lack of space or do we have a system problem for purging aged evidence.


The easiest solution is just build me a larger property room, provide me with another cargo container, another closet or renting me a unit at a public storage facility.


If you have been in as many property rooms as I have and taught as many classes as I have, I find that in most cases that at least two thirds of our inventories are candidates for purging. They are generally beyond the statue of limitations, the suspect has finished their jail sentence, the case was never filed as there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case, the victim is no longer desirous of prosecution, suspect has passed away and the list goes on an on.  


In most cases when evaluating the two thirds of candidates we find that in most case 80% are misdemeanor case with generally a one or two year Statutes of Limitations.


The problem is generally not the size of the facility but how we manage our evidence. The goal should be one for one, (one in and one out). Believe it or not this is accomplished in many property rooms across the country. However in order to accomplish this we need sufficient staffing, proactive review systems, software that manages our evidence, administrative support and the cooperation of the courts and prosecutor


Questions To Ask


Secondly, when sizing the property room for the future many questions need to be address such as.

  • If we had sufficient staff and were purging at a one-to-one rate does the room have be larger in size?
  • If we had approval for an Administrative Kill Policy from the local prosecutor that it is was OK to purge misdemeanor items from the inventory one day after the statue limitation expired, where there were no warrants or appeal, what would the impact be on the inventory levels and size?
  • If we used high-density shelving in the property room, could we double the amount of items in a facility? 
  • If we have a fifteen-foot ceiling could we in stall mezzanine shelving? 
  • Has your legislature recently written legislation that mandates certain types of biological evidence be retained for multiple years?
  • Has your state legalized marijuana? If, so has the intake of drugs be reduced significantly?
  • Have there been budgetary cuts in property room staffing that will reduce the number of people in the unit for purging?
  • What type of new or different evidence is going to be submitted to our property rooms in the future? Just look at the last ten years - DNA, Grow Equipment,  Cell Phones, Tablets, Oxycontin.
  • Is there more crime in your city/town based on new industries that are coming to their communities, such as "Fracking".
  • Are citizens filing lawsuits in states where marijuana was legalized, charging the department didn't properly care for property and it died?  Yes, lawsuits!
  • Is your department now storing all digital media on a server and not sent on a CD to the Property Room.
  • Did your department recently loose courta  criminal case because the property room had prematurely purged and item and the leadership changed the rules over night about purging?

In summary to your question, do you know or have you heard of a good way to estimate current and/or future evidence storage or space needs? There is no easy way to project unless all of the factors are known that impact the facility. The best solution is to manage the inventory and strive for a one to one ratio for purging.




Joe Latta

Executive Director 


Commentary -    

Property Room scandals have destroyed the careers of countless numbers of law enforcement employees of every rank. This story has an unusual twist or unintended consequences when a department makes the news   


Headline Of The Month


Baltimore Co. Police Cadet Charged

With Evidence Vault Drug Theft

By Jessica Anderson

The Baltimore Sun


June 25, 2014


A Baltimore County police cadet stole drugs with a street value of more than $125,000 from the evidence vault at the department's headquarters and sold the drugs to two cousins, according to charging documents and police officials.

Nicholas Michael Ishmael, 20, stole evidence related to at least 15 cases, including Oxycodone tablets, cocaine, morphine and other drugs, according to documents filed in District Court.


After a "very lengthy investigation," Chief James W. Johnson said, the department is in the process of reviewing "every piece of evidence in our property evidence unit, and we intend to review all policies and procedures, and technologies and other techniques we can use to prevent this from happening in the future."


The department has reviewed 8,000 cases and must review another 19,000, officials said. In four cases, $450 in cash that was being kept as evidence remains unaccounted for, but officials do not believe Ishmael is involved.


He was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of theft and drug-related charges, and was expected to be released Wednesday from the Baltimore County Detention Center on $650,000 bail.


"I am deeply troubled by the circumstances," Johnson said. "We spend a lot of time developing and building the integrity of this agency, and impeachment of our ability to track and control evidence is certainly called into question."


Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger, whose office is reviewing the affected cases, said, "We are appropriately concerned." He added that he does not believe the thefts will directly affect the outcome of any cases, which include a homicide.


Defense attorney Mark Van Bavel, who isn't involved in any of the cases, said it would be difficult for the state's attorney's office to try cases without drugs but that the prosecutors could use circumstantial evidence.


Another defense attorney not involved in the cases, Arthur E. McGreevy, said that "it would be very difficult to reach your burden with the drugs being gone" and that the cases would likely be dropped.

Johnson said no other department personnel were involved.

Ishmael did not have an attorney listed in online court records. He does not have a prior adult criminal record in Maryland, records show.

Ishmael's grandmother, Rosie Rambissoon, who was in town with her husband visiting from Trinidad, said Ishmael and his two brothers grew up in Parkville.

"We're upset," she said. "Nicholas was such a nice boy. He was never in any trouble. I don't know how he found himself in this trouble.

I've Got Something You Don't Have!
(can't make this stuff up!)

 Police Department - Refused PD

"I can't believe someone did this"
An officer stopped a 17 year old on the street carrying a Bud Lite concealed in a McDonald's soda cup. The officer writes a citation and books the cup into evidence. Notice it has been both safely and professional sealed with a latex glove.


Property & Evidence By the Book
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Property and Evidence By The Book 2

The only book of its kind. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Managing a Property and Evidence Room

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Property & Evidence FORMS By the Book

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are completely modifiable in Microsoft Word. The forms are also saved in a PDF format that provides the user the ability to fill in the boxes and use immediately

Special Prices For Members !
Video Specials
Security of the Property Room
Audit and Inventories
and receive a copy of:

Property and Evidence By The Book

By Joseph Latta

Book is available by PDF link when you
purchase either video module

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In This Issue
Class Schedule
Classes Filling Up

Madison, WI
July 29 - 30, 2014
Only 5 Seats Remaining
South San Francisco, CA
August 5 - 6, 2014
Class FULL - 
Call IAPE for waiting list

Meridian, ID
August 19 - 20, 2014
Only 9 Seats Remaining 

Columbia, SC
September 10 - 11, 2014

West Des Moines, IA
September 24 - 25 2014
Only 7 Seats Remaining 

Minneapolis, MN 
October 1 - 2, 2014
Only 10 Seats Remaining 

Sanford, ME 
October 7 - 8, 2014 

Sterling Heights, MI 
October 28 - 29, 2014 

Portland, OR
November 4 - 5, 2014

Deptford, NJ
November 18 - 19, 2014

Burbank, CA
December 2 - 3, 2014

Toronto, Ontario
December 9 - 10, 2014

2015 Classes Posted

Las Vegas, NV
February 23 - 24, 2015

Provo, UT
March 3 - 4, 2015

Fort Collins, CO
March 11 - 12, 2014

Sioux Falls, SD
March 24 - 25, 2014

Being Planned

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Miamisburg, OH
Tampa, FL

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The Property Room

"If, you always do what you always did; you'll always get what you always got"



IAPE continues its relationships with valuable and unique resources for our profession. Each month we will introduce  you to companies who offer products and services to improve evidence handling, processes and best practices.



The PERCS Index specializes in bar code solutions for Police agencies.  They utilize the latest in technology to make the tracking and management of Evidence as straightforward as possible.  They also provide solutions for the problem of tracking equipment going in and out of the agency with their Equipment Tracker.  If tracking files is a problem, then our File Tracker will provide the solution.  Other products specifically designed for the unique requirements of the Police environment includes the controlling of fixed assets with our Asset Manager and their only non-bar code solution used my many agencies is our Quarter Master system


For more information, go to their website www.percs.com   and go through the online Video Presentation, or give David Miller a call at 866-461-4669.


Visit our website The PERCS INDEX and see our locker products. 


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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