IAPE Monthly Newsletter & Updates
August 2020
Ask Joe...Each month, IAPE's primary instructor and Executive Director, Joe Latta, answers one of your questions pertaining to your everyday property and evidence room questions.
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Dear Joe,
I have been to several of your classes but could not remember the number of property officers needed determined by the number of sworn officers in a department. At this time, we have 72 sworn officers and hiring 3 to 4 this year. I am the only full-time property officer and have an employee trained to fill in for me if I am gone, but they say we cannot justify 2 full time property officers at this time. Thanks for your time.

Dear Jerry,
The number of people in a Property Room cannot be predicated on just the number of officers. Let me explain. There are literally dozens of factors that can have an impact on the staffing levels for your property room. For example, researching cases for disposal is the most time-consuming element of the purging process. If you are doing the research, and the department next door with the same staffing numbers are having the case officers do the research, there is no way to compare. So, both of you have 72 officers but you are drowning!

I’m going to challenge you to take the test below! When you are finished, add up the Yes's and No’s.
Do we have enough staff?
Yes of No?

  1. Looking at your inventory, are you at a one to one ratio at the end of the year? (1 in 1 out)
  2. When retrieving evidence from the shelf, can you generally find the item(s) without digging through piles of evidence?
  3. Is all of your evidence stored at one location?
  4. Are submitting employees mandated to follow explicit packaging directives that require minimal returns of improperly documented / packaged evidence to the submitting employee for correction?
  5. If evidence is returned to the submitting employee for correction, is there a policy that mandates the items are corrected and returned by a specific time? (Next day is optimal)
  6. Are you working in a system that is entirely automated?
  7. If you are using a property and evidence management system, do the submitting officers do the up-front data entry? 
  8. If you are using barcodes, does each item get a barcode?
  9. If you are using a property and evidence computer systems does the officer put the barcode on the item(s)
  10. When movements are made with evidence (court, lab, other locations) do you use your scanner to make the move?
  11. During the purging process, does your computer system provide you with lists of items that may be eligible to purge?
  12. During the purging process, is the case officer or submitting officer responsible for researching the status of the case?
  13. If purging notices are sent to the case officer or submitting officer from the property room, is there a policy that requires that the notices be returned and responded to by a specific date?
  14. During the purging process / destruction process, does your computer system generate the gun destruction lists, drug destruction lists, etc. (As opposed to typing in a spreadsheet)

Now that you have completed the survey, add up your YES’s and NO’s. 
  • If you have 11 – 14 YES answers and you answered YES to Number 1, You Probably Don’t Need Help.
  • If you have 6-10 YES you’re in trouble!
  • If you have 1 –5 YES you probably need help now!
If you answered YES to Number 1, you’re in good shape! In summary, it’s not the number of staff, but the use of automation, good polices that govern purging, the layout of the room, protocols that evidence is submitted to you in a manner that doesn’t have to be routinely returned and corrected along with the close monitoring of the inventory levels with a goal of a one – to – one ratio!
Former deputies plead no contest to stealing seized drugs and selling them
In March of 2015, Logan August entered the property room under the false premise of removing that marijuana for burial and destruction and took 351 pounds of marijuana.
August 6, 2020
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer announced a resolution in a significant plea in a case involving the two former Kern County Sheriff Deputies, Logan August and Derick Penney, who were accused of stealing marijuana seized by the Sheriff Department. On August 6, 2020, Logan August entered a plea of no contest to all Fifteen charges alleged against him.
According to the DA'S Office, a no-contest or plea to all charge’s subjects Logan August to a prison sentence of upwards of ten years, though the Judge that conducts the sentencing has wide discretion on the ultimate sentence imposed. August will be sentenced by Honorable Judge Judith Dulcich on October 13, 2020.

On August 6, 2020, Derrick Penney entered a no-contest plea to two felony counts of Penal Code 118.1, falsifying a police report. He will serve 90 days in custody and be placed on probation for his involvement in the case.

In early 2017 Deputies Logan August and Derick Penney entered a plea agreement with Federal Prosecutors of the United States Attorney's Office that acknowledged conspiring with former BPD Officer Patrick Mara to sell marijuana seized from illegal marijuana grow site. This Federal plea was negotiated without consultation of the Sheriff's Department or the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

Upon learning of the Federal plea, KCSO Commander Erik Levin began an investigation in conjunction with the District Attorney Investigator Don Krueger to learn the true extent of the crimes committed by any member of KCSO. This year-long investigation revealed several new offenses committed by August and Penney.

Investigators learned that August had assisted other law enforcement agencies in transporting seized marijuana from a crime scene to the Sheriff's property room for booking and storage. Much of the marijuana was considered high-grade, and in vacuum-sealed containers. In March of 2015, August entered the property room under the false premise of removing that marijuana for burial and destruction and took 351 pounds of marijuana. Despite being a uniformed Deputy, August had no authority or legitimate purpose to remove this seized marijuana from the property room.

KCSO procedures dictated that only specific persons could remove marijuana for this purpose, and the destruction process of marijuana was closely guarded and monitored. The investigation confirmed that August never attempted to have the marijuana disposed of, and the location of the stolen marijuana was never discovered.

Investigators discovered that August concealed the theft by falsifying evidence destruction forms and police reports. These false forms and reports might have been noticed by a Supervising Deputy if they had not been signed for approval in the KCSO computer system by Penney, whose actions precluded the possibility of their discovery.This case was investigated and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Garrett T. Rice.
Joe's Commentary
When I read through news stories every day, I’m constantly asking, how did this happen and at the same time, if they had been adhering to IAPE Professional Standards, would this theft of marijuana have occurred? Answer: No!

Facts: Deputy entered the property room under the false premise of removing that marijuana for burial and destruction and took 351 pounds of marijuana.

In the IAPE property and evidence management classes, we discuss the “separation of duties”. Officers/deputies collect evidence, evidence custodian store and dispose, while the investigating officer / case officer and in some case the prosecutor will approve the action. No one person has total control. In this scenario, the deputies seized the dope, signed out to destroy, which they didn’t . Wrong on all counts.

Secondly, there was no independent witness to the destruction that could validate independently that the drugs were in fact destroyed!
IAPE Standard 9.7: Drugs - Destruction Documentation

Standard: Destroyed drugs need to provide detailed documentation that defines all personnel involved in the destruction process and protocols that ensure that an independent witness is able to validate that each and every item was destroyed. 

Definition: Destruction documentation refers to the memorializing of the destruction process to provide a transparent and verifiable chain of custody and final disposal. 

Reasoning: Drugs pending destruction have the greatest likelihood of being pilfered from storage, or during transportation to a destruction site, as there is generally no longer any interest in the item for prosecution. As a result, there is a need for thorough documentation and verification of every step in the destruction process to leave no room for doubt or suspicion as to its final disposition.

In short, the documentation should include: who authorized the drug item for destruction, who staged and verified the item on the destruction list, who sealed the item in a destruction container, who transported the destruction container to the destruction location, and who witnessed the physical destruction of the drugs.

Maintaining a running drug destruction list that includes the case number, item number, tracking number, defendant’s name and an accurate description of each item enhances the integrity of the process. Once the drugs authorized for destruction have been listed, they should be staged and validated by an independent witness from outside the property unit, and placed in a container with the validated list attached. Each item should be accounted for, witnessed, and individually initialed.

Once this container has been filled, it should be sealed and initialed by the independent witness and a property officer. Attaching a copy of the destruction list to the sealed container and retaining it for future reference is a good practice to provide a method to later audit the items prior to destruction. The items awaiting destruction should never be documented as destroyed until the actual destruction has taken place.

Once the destruction has been completed and witnessed, the original destruction list with witness signatures should be filed, and a copy should be forwarded to the appropriate supervisor or manager for an independent record of the destruction. 

In order to best document the destruction process, writing a general case report describing the destruction method, who staged the drugs for destruction, who witnessed the items being placed in the destruction container, identifying at least two persons who transported the items together (Rule of Two), who actually observed the items being burned is recommended. This case report should remain on file within the Records Bureau for the normal report retention schedule. 
Free Webinar - Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM PDT
Over 400 agencies have already registered - You don't want to miss out!
NATIONAL WEBINAR - Environmental Storage Considerations for Forensic Evidence
The International Association for Property and Evidence Inc., in partnership with FileOnQ will be hosting a FREE live webinar, "Best practices for the retention and preservation of forensic evidence." More than ever, the retention and preservation of forensic evidence is key to the criminal justice system as it can both help solve cases and exonerate the innocent. The challenge lies in the fact that the retention of evidence for extended periods (i.e., 10+ years) can prove challenging from a chain-of-custody and evidence tracking perspective, and from an evidence preservation standpoint. 
During this FREE one-hour webinar presented by Marcela Najarro, you will be provided the knowledge and resources on advancements in technology and why investing in safeguarding evidence for the future is a worthwhile effort.
Topics of discussion will include:
  • Environmental foes such as temperature, humidity, UV light, and fungus and its effect on evidence.
  • The importance of monitoring climate during the entire life cycle of the evidence management
  • How extreme changes in conditions can lead to unintended degradation and/or alteration of the evidence.
  • Reports from the CDC assessing health risks for evidence custodians and safety aspects to storage conditions.
  • Review the literature for research data supporting best practices for storing varying types of evidence.
Helping Law Enforcement Reduce Risk, Avoid Adverse Consequences AND Achieve Evidence Excellence!
World Class Training in “Best-Practices” For Evidence & Property Room Management
We offers dozens of classes per year across the U.S. and Canada, taught by current and former law enforcement officials with extensive real-world experience in management of property and evidence. This two-day course is ideal for those responsible for, or actively involved in, the operation, supervision or management of a Property and Evidence Unit. All training topics address best business practices and professional standards.
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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).
*Receive a FREE digital download of "Property and Evidence By The Book" 2nd Edition with paid Online Video registration.
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