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Case Study: Police Evidence Management

New London Police Department Locks Down Evidence Management with IntelliTech's Evidence Management Solutions

 

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Police Department uses automatic data collection and bar code technology to control, track, retrieve and inventory their evidence.

THE PROBLEM


Every day, the New London, Connecticut Police Department receives property and evidence that it must administer and control.

Police badge"We were manually identifying all kinds of evidence, such as directly labeling guns, labeling bags or envelopes used to store items, or even labeling refrigerated items. We needed a better means to track and inventory it all," said Captain Michael Lacey, Commander of the Support Services Division. Although only 2% of collected evidence eventually goes to trial, it is imperative that the Department maintains accurate and complete documentation for evidence under its control. Documentation for the over 10,000 items controlled by the department must be sufficient in integrity to satisfy any competent court that has reason to examine the process.

According to Capt. Lacey, controlling and tracking this mass of evidence manually without the support of automatic data capture equipment was a major headache. Under their old system, once evidence was brought into the police headquarters, a case number was assigned and manually logged in the Evidence Control Manual. Specific details and information about the evidence were then again manually written on a label or tag, attached to the item or its storage container and the evidence stored in the property room.

Manual sign-out and sign-in of evidence was time consuming and added to the work overhead. It made tracking the chain of custody labor intensive as well. Repetitive manual entry of the same information as the evidence moved from one

 

location to another slowed down the process and was prone to inaccuracies. And the manual entry system prevented an automated means for real time data sharing with other divisions and departments.

Barcoded box storage for evidence

According to Property Evidence Officer, Dean Fornier, taking inventory was impossible. Using a paper and pencil method was labor intensive and very time consuming. To inventory a box of evidence, every item had to be removed and manually checked against a list of over 10,000 items. Some evidence had as many as 26 items to one box. And there was no obvious means to ensure evidence was in its proper place."

Two other problems also existed for the Department:

  1. It was impossible to accurately total their inventory
  2. There was no reporting methodology to inform the Property Officers when the property could be lawfully released or destroyed or to report when it had been disposed.

Maintaining the correct inventory status was truly a difficult and time-consuming task.

The Department needed a better way to quickly locate their evidence in the property room, track its movement from one individual to another, be able to take inventory quickly and accurately and determine and report its destruction date.

THE SOLUTION

The IntelliTech Evidence Management Solution



Software

New London Police turned to IntelliTech International, Inc. to help them with an Evidence Management Solution. Using the THE, Inc. records management software module, an AS/400 database was created that generates a unique identification number for every property item entered into the system. The database details the department name, case number, evidence number, inventory location, date and description for each piece of evidence in addition to other details.1

IntelliTech recommended bar code label printing using its IntelliBar M48 AS label printer that integrated into their existing IBM AS/400 system and THE, Inc. software application. The department identified a scanner, decoder and portable data terminal to scan bar coded evidence and to take inventory. This solution would provide the department with fast and accurate data collection and control for tracking and maintaining their property, evidence and inventory. In addition, the solution could be useful for other requirements such as fixed asset management, document tracking, and access/identification cards printing and scanning.

Hardware

An IntelliBar® M48 AS Net label printer prints evidence labels over the Department’s AS/400 Ethernet network. The label information contains the bar coded item identification number, case/incident identification number, property-evidence identification number, evidence type, evidence description, and recovery date field is printed. IntelliBar AS Series printers are uniquely the only bar code label printers that fully support all eight AS/400 IPDS Towers (print commands).

New London Police were able to use their conventional data stream to print their labels from the AS/400 without concerns about lack of support for the IPDS Towers now or in the future. And all IntelliBar Net Series printers have a standard internal Ethernet 10BaseT print server that provides a single device networked printer solution. The IntelliBar M48 AS Net was easily integrated into the New London system platform with minimal programming that resulted in significant integration savings and downstream software maintenance savings.

Supplies

IntelliTech supplied custom 4" wide x 1.25" long DuraPolyTM synthetic labels with a very aggressive permanent adhesive that satisfied Department specifications. These labels are printed with IntelliBar DuraResin Plus™ ink ribbons that create an archival printed image for long term, permanent item identification.

Evidence Property Label


The Property Officer can print one or multiple labels at one time, as needed to mark one or several pieces of related items. The labels are applied to sealed plastic evidence bags containing small pieces of evidence such as jewelry or to manila envelopes that contain evidence that needs to be concealed from public view.

Gun evidence box with bar code labelHandguns, small knives and other smaller weapons are stored in handgun boxes that are labeled on the outside of the box. Labels can also be directly applied to the evidence as well, such as videocassette tapes. For identification of larger weapons such as long knives or long barrel rifles, a label can be applied to a hangtag that is attached to the item.

THE RESULTS

More Control and Greater Accuracy with Less Time and Effort

The IntelliTech Evidence Management Solution made the evidence control and tracking easier and more accurate for the New London Police. Item information is entered only once into the system. The likelihood of errors resulting from repetitious manual entry or miscommunication from manually misread or mislabeled items is greatly reduced. An item record is quickly retrieved by scanning the bar coded label with a handheld scanner or terminal, making it easier to accurately control the evidence for chain of custody and to update the record when required. In addition, other divisions and departments have real time system access to item record information. And taking inventory is much easier now.

According to Captain Lacey, "Using handheld scanners, we can scan a segment of our property room or everything in the room and later download the information into our computer system.

The solution also provides reports that alert us to conflicts, such as missing or obsolete evidence - what should or should not be in our inventory. That’s the real benefit of the bar code and scanning for data collection. Inventorying used to be painful and time-consuming, but it is much easier and considerably more accurate now."

The IntelliTech Evidence Management Solution enabled the New London Police Department to gain better control of their evidence. The new process is less time consuming, is more accurate and has eliminated the manual paper trail. As an additional benefit, Captain Lacey and his staff now have more time and funds available for other critical departmental requirements – a real plus considering today’s constrained FSP budgets nationwide.

1: Example of Database fields: Recovery Date, Recovered Time, Reference Source Type (Offense, Citation, MVA), Incident (Case) Number, Bin (Storage) Location, Bar Code Number, Review Reason (follow-up date), Investigating Officer, Submitting Officer, Evidence Type (arrest, ongoing investigation, found), Name of Property Officer, Property Description, UCR Property Type, Make, Property Type (from table) model, Serial Number, Color, Year, Value, Disposition, Disposition Date, Damaged, Evidence Received Date, Evidence Received By, Entry Employees, Entry Date, Entry Time, Recovery Location. Property messages: Names, Chain of Custody, Narratives, Court Info, Drug Info.