When it comes to solving crimes, high-tension courtroom trials, and delivering justice, your mind might immediately go to high-tech tools like video surveillance, DNA testing, fingerprint analysis, and forensic identification. After all, these types of technologies are critically important – and are exciting to hear about.
But there’s another tool that largely flies below the radar because of its seemingly low-tech nature: the evidence bag. But the truth is that evidence bags are sophisticated in their own regard and, more importantly, are an integral tool for police and law enforcement officials.
Here are seven things that make evidence bags a critical component of the law enforcement and crime-fighting lineup.
- Evidence Bags are More than Just Plastic Bags – While they might seem like simple plastic pouches, evidence bags actually offer sophisticated anti-tampering properties. For instance, each bag is uniquely serial numbered for identification purposes as well as pre-printed fields that allow for formal and permanent documentation of important notes. They are also packed with other tamper evident methods like thermochromic and spittle reactive inks, printed dual side welds, that make any tampering will be clearly evident.
- Preserving Evidence is an Important Job – Evidence of all sorts is often integral in court proceedings. This means that it’s crucial for evidence to be preserved without any risk of tampering, manipulation, alteration, or damage because this could jeopardize its validity in court. If evidence is not presented in court in the exact manner in which it was recovered, it may be deemed inadmissible. In order to successfully prove a case, it’s critical to maintain the integrity of each piece of evidence – and evidence bags are the key to doing so.
- They Help Ensure Continuity of Evidence – Given the importance of maintaining the integrity of evidence, it’s key that law enforcement is able to prove it has been properly handled through its long chain of custody. Evidence bags make this possible by allowing law enforcement to immediately document and seal important evidence as soon as it’s recovered and to track its entire journey – whether to a courtroom or into storage. They do this by helping to show who handled evidence, when they had it, what they did with it – including whether it was taken out for further investigation, forensic testing, or court purposes – and who they turned it over to, as well as where it was stored.
- Evidence Bags Have a Diverse Array of Uses – Whether it’s for criminal investigations, loss prevention, or to recover and return lost or stolen items, evidence bags are a frequently used tool. They are often used to hold everything from lost wallets to counterfeit currency to contraband and weapons.
- Police Officers Never Go Anywhere Without Them – Whether at the office or in patrol vehicles, police officers never go anywhere without evidence bags. In fact, when police arrive at a crime scene, one officer is immediately enlisted to act as the official evidence collection officer. This person is in charge of bagging and tagging evidence, taking it back to the police station, and turning it over to the property officer who will check the item into storage.
- Evidence Bags Eliminate Provide Protection for Police Officers – There are a significant number of people involved in the chain of evidence and the reality is that internal tampering is a constant risk for law enforcement. In the event that evidence is tampered with, evidence bags can help police identify when and by whom. For instance, when collecting cash, evidence bags can prevent the risk that currency might be stolen or skimmed by allowing officers to document the exact amount of cash and denominations collected. On the contrary, evidence bags can help protect law enforcement officials from accusations of tampering or mishandling. In many instances, evidence bags require that two names be listed on each evidence bag – a process called “dual custody.” This ensures that there are always two officers present at the time the evidence is recovered so that they are able to corroborate exactly how the item was found and to later confirm, when necessary, that it has not been tampered with.
- Deterrence is a Powerful Tool – Evidence bags have been proven to reduce tampering, mishandling, and even shrinkage because their sophisticated tamper-evident properties act as a deterrent, forcing would-be culprits to think twice before attempting to open them.
By picking the right evidence bags, police forces can do their best to ensure important evidence remains exactly as it was found. At Northern Specialty Supplies, we are proud to offer products that support law enforcement, including some of the highest quality evidence bags available on the market. To learn more, or if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.