JUNE 2016 - 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.
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Dear Joe,
I was  recently hired here a GPD as the department's first full time evidence custodian and with no previous law enforcement involvement. My previous job was entirely related to warehousing (distribution warehouse) for major retailer.
My first introduction in to the property room was a scene of total chaos!  Nothing in the storage areas appeared to be package with any type of continuity or order. When I started asking questions about packaging, I quickly found out that officers would package evidence in any manner they thought was "acceptable".  For example, I have found ammunition in small bags, large bags, heat sealable pouches, envelopes all of which make any type of orderly storage almost impossible.
So my question, do you folks have any recommendation or standards on how different types of evidence should be packaged and how do I get them to do "correctly"?

BG Messi


Dear BG Messi,
When you say correctly, remember your "correctly" and my "correctly" may be entirely different.  Let me give you a few thoughts how to get it done "correctly". We should also strive to package evidence in containers that are consistent in size and shape that ultimately makes storage more efficient. 
You need to make sure that when packages comes to you in the property room that they meet your crime lab requirements and the way you want to store that type of evidence.  
Remember, you don't want to rely on the submitting officer to know how to package evidence as their training may be been conducted by the trainer who merely parroted what his or here trainer told them.  
First things first, make a list of all of the various type of evidence that you receive on a regular base. Pretty sure your list will be much like all other property rooms. Guns, drugs, ammunition, money, long items, paraphernalia, documents, cd's/dvd's, blood samples, urine samples, tools, clothes etc. Pick the first twenty items on the list and then ask yourself, "how do I want the items packaged to most efficiently fit on the shelf?"   
Once you have determined your needs for the most efficient storage methods, you are now  ready to photograph all of these items the way you want them packaged for your storage needs. Once you set the packaging standard that works for your department, look for the best photographer in your department or check with your community college and see it they have a student with a photography major, who wants to do some volunteer work.

Once the photos are taken, write a narrative about the various nuances for each item. Those nuances may be checking loaded status and or serials number on guns, or how to seal drug package and the necessity to count money be denomination. 
Once you have the information you need, assemble the photos and narrative and put them in the Police Department Packaging Manual. The manual can be printed or on line. You get to choose.
To m ake this easier, follow the link to a sample of Packaging Manuals on the IAPE website.

Headline of the Month
DEA to cops: Fentanyl can kill you too
Police warned nationwide of fentanyl poisoning after two N.J. detectives inhaled a small amount. 

Date: June 16, 2016

Collateral damage from the heroin epidemic just reached a new level.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is cautioning police throughout the nation about their handling of suspected drugs after two New Jersey detectives were poisoned by accidentally inhaling a small amount of the highly potent painkiller fentanyl.

The opioid that's often used to cut or substitute for heroin and sold on the streets is increasingly responsible for overdose deaths across the country, including in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. A DEA video being circulated by police in recent days includes the two New Jersey officers' experience with fentanyl, which can be 30 times to 50 times stronger than heroin. The Enquirer is not identifying the officers, who, according to a DEA official, work undercover.

In the video, one detective said he closed a plastic bag with suspected fentanyl and, by habit, forced air out of it.

"A bunch of it poofed up in the air," he said. "It was a very miniscule amount."

He and his partner were overcome by the effects of the opioid, which is often prescribed to alleviate end-of-life or cancer pain.

"I thought that was it. I thought I was dying," the other detective said. "It felt like my body was shutting down."

Melvin Patterson, a DEA special agent at the Washington, D.C., headquarters said police should wear masks and gloves if they're handling purported fentanyl or heroin, and go without field testing.
Instead, DEA Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley encouraged in the video, go directly to a crime lab, which has proper safety equipment.

Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky officers are heeding the warning, and some already had protocols that matched the DEA's.
"We instruct the officers to use protective gear, including gloves and masks if necessary, when processing the evidence, and direct them not to conduct any field tests of suspected fentanyl, unless they are in the safer environment of our evidence room," said Lt. Brad Winall, commander of the Cincinnati Regional Narcotics Unit. The task force operated by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigates drug trafficking cases in Greater Cincinnati.

Agents also mark the outside of evidence bags and the inside of plastic bags containing the suspected drug to warn lab personnel of their contents, Winall said.

Chris Conners, director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, received the DEA video. He said his officers are following its advice. He has distributed the video to other Northern Kentucky police departments, since they, too, are called to suspected drug scenes and help handle overdoses.

Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, who heads the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force, said the DEA warning illustrates another hazard for police and emergency medical personnel during the nationwide heroin epidemic.

"This is just another danger the officers on the street are facing: worrying about being stuck with a needle, not just the potential for hepatitis C and HIV but also if fentanyl," Synan said. The same goes for paramedics and other emergency responders, he said.

Fentanyl can be absorbed into the body through inhalation, oral exposure, injectionor skin contact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns. Patterson noted that it also can get into the bloodstream through a cut or other open wound in the skin. Fentanyl is often injected by unwitting drug users who believe it to be heroin, the DEA and state and local law enforcement officials said.
"All of this shows how much of an impact heroin and fentanyl have on our families, our communities, but also on the officers who are facing just as life-altering or deadly consequences from these drugs, making the dangers of this epidemic even more concerning," Synan said.

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