Andy Lohrman Hello,
My name is Andy Lohrman, founder of Integrity Management Solutions, developers of Exhibit-A: Evidence Software™. I have been a sworn police office for 21 years. The majority of those years have been in criminal investigations and crime scene investigations. I am a primary instructor of CSIs at a Midwestern law enforcement academy. My areas of expertise are quality assurance of evidence systems and crime scene processing procedures.

The purpose of this blog is to provide authoritative articles and tips on evidence handling methodology and to open a dialog between law enforcement officers (and all those concerned) on the important subject of evidence management.

Check out all the BENEFITS of using Exhibit-A, then Download a trial copy!

I hope that you find the articles useful.

Andy Lohrman

Posted in 01 Welcome | 2 Comments

Congratulations! You Are a CSI. Now What?

Unlike the popular Hollywood versions of CSI where the crime scene investigator shows up wearing high heel shoes or expensive duds with one small case containing the exact equipment that he or she needs for the particular scenario, your job will be nasty, dirty, stinky, and often take long hours of wading through crap to: identify, collect, package, maintain, and preserve physical evidence. But, that is what your job is. It is not glamorous to identify valuable evidence or collect it and package it properly. You will likely not be asked for an autograph for the way you maintain the chain of custody or the way you transport and store each piece of evidence correctly.

Whether you work for a small agency of three officers or a large agency with thousands of officers, you will at some time need to collect physical evidence in order to successfully prosecute a criminal. Nearly all crime scenes contain evidence that needs collected for analysis. That evidence is also important for future prosecution. It is critically important to the case that the evidence is collected, packaged, and maintained using proper procedures. If you use improper techniques, evidence can be lost, overlooked or contaminated. Improperly packaged evidence can lead to its inadmissibility at trial and jeopardize the successful outcome of the case.

Your job as a CSI is mission critical. You are a part of the larger mission of the criminal justice system. The rest of the system is relying on you to do your job. It is a tough job that few can do. You need extensive knowledge on a variety of different disciplines such as: fingerprinting, biological evidence, entomology, and trace, just to name a few. The quality of your work directly influences the success of the case, whether guilty or innocent. The quality of the evidence you identify, collect, package, maintain, and submit to a laboratory does not matter if you do not follow sound techniques for each step.

For the next several weeks, I will post a new blog explaining techniques in: evidence collection, packaging, chain of custody, storage and other issues surrounding evidence handling. Your feedback and comments are always welcome. Let me know if you have a topic you would like to see discussed in the meantime.

Andy Lohrman

Get The Evidence Management Program You Need To Ensure Full Time Evidence Property Room Tracking

Integrity Is Key specializes in Law Enforcement Software. Exhibit A from Integrity Is Key is absolutely best evidence management system available anywhere. Easy to use and priced below similar products, Exhibit A was developed by Law Enforcement people. This evidence tracking system outperforms all others – you will flat out be amazed at the time saving and intuitive features. Now you can stop worry about your evidence getting “lost.” Exhibit A evidence tracking software will give you confidence to stand up to any audit at any time.

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Is your evidence room about to make headlines?

“Don’t let your department’s property room make the next negative headlines!”
– Strategies to Keep Your Department’s Property Room Management Out of the Media

Recent Newspaper Headline: Police Department’s Property Room Raises Questions

I won’t name the department, or even the state, but suffice to say the police department subjected in the story with this headline definitely didn’t want this type of attention brought into their arena. And this isn’t something dragged out of the archives from an archaic age when evidence property rooms were file boxes stashed in a hall closet. This stems from a published article in January of an official, recorded audit report brought to light in a large metropolitan police department last summer after moving their evidence property room into a new facility. They have state-of-the-art security systems (key pad entry, alarm, digital tracking, etc.) in place, yet somehow didn’t utilize every method at their disposal. The article elaborated on how this information is exactly what the local criminal defense attorneys want to hear.

The issue at hand was the fact that during the move, there were items noted to have been lost or misplaced which included narcotics, a gun and money. It was recorded that although the property room had a keypad, designed to track and limit access to specific personnel, all of the officers knew the code and it wasn’t monitored. Plus, they had keys to enter the room, which negated the keypad and any possibility of tracking entry. To make matters worse, the alarm signaling entry/exit to the room was disconnected. So, not only was property missing, but how poorly their evidence is managed was brought to light.

How did something like this happen? There are many speculations of answers, but as a seasoned law enforcement officer and/or evidence tech you can probably, unfortunately, answer that question. All too often some of the simplest of tasks can be overlooked or outright avoided by departments and personnel. I won’t say that all, or any, intentionally make mistakes like the mentioned story, but whether due to apathy or the lack of training and knowledge, errors do happen and can be avoided.

As you read this, you can probably relate to witnessing missed opportunities to correct these problems and the potential miss-steps you could face. Not only does this draw attention to your department, it becomes fodder for a criminal defense team to use in their favor.

Generally, evidence rules require that criminal defenders are told by the prosecution about problems that potentially exist with evidence if they know it. Don’t give them this option. Any potential breach of evidence/property can be recognized and controlled with basic solutions to prevent the mentioned errors and other negative impact events from occurring.


What can you do to make sure this never happens to you, one of your cases, or your department?

Identify. As a person in administration or property management, step back and take your own mental audit of how your property room is managed. Is there a security system in place that limits only your necessary personnel access to the room and property? Is that system used as intended, with private keypad codes? Is entry/exit documented, either by hand or digitally? Are alarms and alerts in place to notify your dispatch center if security is breached? The first step to solving issues with your evidence storage is specifically identifying the problem areas. Consider scheduling your own audit that will highlight your current status and give you a great base to begin researching how to make improvements.

Technology. In the 21st Century, we are afforded many technological luxuries that didn’t exist just a decade ago. With computer equipment costs at ever-lower, affordable rates, the price barrier has dropped. Even with a limited budget, small departments can afford barcode and evidence management equipment that was out-of-reach just a few short years ago. Plus, the learning curve to operate the latest techno-gadget no longer requires a computer ‘geek’, for the lack of a better term.

Physical Structure. Make your physical storage area solid and secure. Don’t rely on the old adage of, ‘That’s how its always been,’ if you have an insecure room. There are many options available for proper structure, ventilation and to protect your evidence from fire or another catastrophe.

Education. Keep your department personnel and the local prosecuting office apprised of how detail oriented and secure your property room is or can be with their understanding and assistance. Trust me, this will pay dividends, not only with your fellow officers, but also with the other divisions of law enforcement in your area. Also, you can easily stay up-to-date on the latest methods available by browsing through trade publication articles or by taking classes at a nearby training center or online.

Stay on top of it. Now that you have the latest equipment to manage your property room, don’t relax and take it easy. You have to take advantage of the tools given to you, or those that you worked hard to get. Follow your documented department procedures, rules of evidence, utilize technology and keep up the excellent work of scrupulously managing your property room evidence.

You owe it to the citizens of your jurisdiction to take a proactive approach toward the security of evidence placed in your control and trust. It’s not just your credibility at stake. Your focus involves the department, administration, prosecution and the safety of your community.

In future articles, I’ll breakdown, identify and outline evidence property room management solutions in more detail, but hopefully this will at least get you started thinking about what you can do now.
Is this information new to you? Are there key points that you didn’t fully realize? Are you having any issues with the discussion topic? Do you have additional questions or comments about the topic?

We want to hear from you…

Posted in 02 Evidence Management | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sealing Evidence

Proper seals are the fundamental starting point to insure evidence admissibility. If the collecting officer properly seals the evidence in proper packaging and he can identify those seals in the courtroom, most of the chain of custody battle is won. Any evidence clerk or property officer handling the evidence for storage and transportation purposes will typically not be part of the testimony about chain of custody.

There are many associations with procedure manuals that explain methods for proper evidence seals. One of the best known is the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD). The ASCLD standard says that an evidence container is properly sealed when:

  • the contents cannot readily escape the package.
  • entering the container results in obvious damage or alteration to the container or its seal.
  • the actual seal must itself be sufficient to prevent the possibility of the item being lost or removed without altering the seal.
  • the contents is beyond the possibility of contamination by an outside source.

To put the above in simpler and practical terms, the steps for proper sealing of evidence include:

  • Tape the package shut and initial the seals so that you can tell if anyone has tampered with the package.
  • Use quality packing tape
    • NOT masking tape,
    • duct tape,
    • medical tape,
    • or staples.
  • Initial the tape partially on the tape and partially on the package.
  • Put the following on the package:
    • case number,
    • a unique item number,
    • the collecting officer’s name and ID number,
    • the date,
    • description of the item,
    • location that it was found,
    • and a diagram if applicable.

Take time to seal evidence correctly will help insure that the evidence is admissible.

Andy Lohrman

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