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Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - April 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
New system tracks TPD evidence
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – The chance of evidence being misplaced or stored for longer than necessary by Trinity police became much more remote recently with the introduction of a new evidence tracking system. Part of a records management computer program purchased by the city last year, the evidence tracking portion of the new software was not used until last month because police did not have the necessary equipment. “We were able to purchase a hand-held bar code scanner and a special printer using the proceeds from the sale of seized weapons through the Trinity Auction Gallery,” said Police Chief Steven Jones. Under the new system, each item of evidence is assigned a special tracking number by the computer which then generates an adhesive label containing general information about the evidence. Included on the label is a bar code which, when read by the computer, corresponds to the tracking number. “We haven’t been having problems with evidence but as we accumulate more and more items, the potential for misplacing something increases. We wanted to be proactive in this area and the new bar code system will help us avoid problems in the future,” Jones said. He noted that the only real problem they have had with the accumulated evidence involves when to dispose of it. He noted that by law evidence must be kept for a varying lengths of time, depending on whether or not it involves a felony or misdemeanor offence. “This system will allow us to track that a lot more closely. We can assign a length of time to the case file and when that time is up, the computer will notify us. We can then decide if we need to hang on to it a little longer or dispose of it,” the police chief explained. In the case of confiscated drugs, disposal involves destruction, but other items could be returned to their owners – if the owner is known -- or sold by the police. Another advantage to the new tracking system is that it allows officials to keep track of who handles each piece of evidence as it comes in and out of the police department. “When the evidence is logged into the system, the computer records that and anytime it is checked out – say to be turned over to the district attorney for a trial – we use the hand-held scanner to record the bar code number and note in the computer file where it went and who checked it out,” Jones said. “This type of information is called the chain of custody and it is vital to have during a trial. If a defense attorney want to know who handled a particular piece of evidence, we can provide him with a computer record,” he added. Jones said the new tracking system was a “positive step” and will enable police to better serve the people of Trinity.


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