L3R – 5.5 Evidence Integrity

Evidence Integrity

I    Protect Evidence

Keep all individuals away from the evidence. This includes property owners, managers, and/or other security officers.

Oftentimes, bystanders may contaminate or corrupt unseen evidence (e.g. fingerprints, footprints, debris) that may be able to aid in the identification of suspects. Even law enforcement personnel keep high ranking members out of a crime scene unless investigators have established an entry log and ensured that their presence is necessary.

Explain to the property owners, managers, and/or victims that their entry into the crime scene could hinder the investigation. This includes the identification of suspects and/or the recovery of missing items. Let them know that they are still vital to the investigation, but the scene itself needs to be preserved.

Security personnel should not attempt to access recorded video images until specifically directed to by law enforcement. In no case should ongoing recording be stopped once the crime has been discovered.

II      Prevent Removal of Evidence

Set up physical barriers or call upon others to assist with containment. Tape, ropes, and cones can assist in providing physical indicators of where persons should not access. If no supplies are available, use other possible witnesses or bystanders to assist in containment.

III     Chain of Custody

Unless necessary, do not touch anything. Sometimes, circumstances call for a security officer to handle evidence. This could happen if the security officer is trying to secure a room and has to touch a doorknob, or the securing of a weapon that is possibly dangerous to the proximity of the victim. If this happens, always document the time and location of the removal/tampering and inform the first law enforcement officer on scene. If you are turning evidence over to law enforcement, always document the time that turnover occurred as well as the law enforcement officer’s information (name, badge number, department).