Your evidence team has the tools to distinguish DNA, identify different materials and particles and help public safety officials make their case. With that kind of expertise, you can be forgiven for looking at all evidence lockers and seeing the same thing. However, there are many distinctions to keep in mind when choosing the best evidence storage solution for your squad.
Evidence lockers aim to accomplish the same goals that your team shares to take a case from collar to conviction:
- Storing evidence of all shapes and sizes
- Securing chain of custody
- Improving efficiency of workflow in evidence rooms
- Saving space and often budget
- Adding convenience for all parties accessing evidence (be it officers, evidence techs or court officials)
Yet not every evidence locker is created equal. Sure, they can look the same — steel doors of different sizes and variety of lock options. But the details matter as much in discerning between different locker options as they do in convicting the correct criminal.
The Evidence Is In — Locker Finer Points
In comparing lockers, take a look at what’s actually built in to help secure the evidence. Some lockers feature only one door latch or don’t account for the possibility of someone trying to pry into the locker. Spacesaver lockers have multiple latching points and come with anti-pry tabs in multiple locations to prevent evidence tampering or locker compromise.
A smooth mail slot can leave evidence vulnerable, but a locker with a toothed interior mail slot, like Spacesaver’s) prevents anyone from reaching in to tamper with deposited evidence.
How will the door close and lock? Slam-lock doors might seem like a good idea, but they can easily be locked by accident. That means an evidence tech will need to take the time to unlock them again to enable drop-off in the future. Plus, you run the risk of the slam-lock not actually engaging, but the officer or evidence tech has walked away trusting the evidence is secure. Keyless, push-button locks avoid these problems and also cut out the risk of a key being lost or copied.
Look also at the latching mechanism placement. Is it fully contained inside the lockers’ walls? This not only maximizes storage but reduces the risk of the evidence itself being damaged by the latch. An evidence bag snagged on a latching mechanism could mean big trouble down the road.
Check the locker’s construction too. Most evidence lockers on the market are steel. But a riveted construction single-panel door is not as strong as an all-welded, double-panel construction door. You can also better avoid cross-contamination and easily cleanup of any evidence spills with an upward bend to the locker bottom pan. If the bottom pan is bent downward, debris might collect in between the bottom pan and compartment side wall.
What is the evidence locker doing to help circulate air and diffuse odor? An optional mesh back door, for instance, can help save the evidence tech from being overwhelmed by unpleasant smells (why are they always unpleasant?) when retrieving evidence from the locker.
The optional mesh door also lets evidence techs identify which lockers they need to access with a quick glance inside. Any time saving measure adds up in the long run as overloaded evidence teams work to meet the many processing requests.
Consider also product warranty and the availability of installers and local service technicians. A cheaper option may not pay off down the road when it turns out your lockers weren’t installed correctly, or you have to wait ages for someone to reach your department to answer a service call.
Securing Evidence and Peace of Mind
Evidence comes in for processing day and night. To secure chain of custody for short-term evidence, make the smart investment in a customized solution for your needs. Think your department is constrained for space? The Whitehall Police Department had only 371 square feet to work with. With a tight floor plan to work with, the Ohio-based department redesigned its existing storage layout to see arresting results in a limited space. They improved work flow efficiency and maximized floor space with:
- Pass-thru Evidence Lockers, including a drying rack
- High-density storage
- Refrigerator Locker/Drying Cabinet specifically engineered for DNA and biological storage
Case closed. You don’t even need to put the choices under a microscope. Patterson Pope’s Spacesaver evidence storage lockers provide you the utmost confidence in security and integrity of evidence preservation and retrieval.
Just as your technicians will handle different types of evidence, there are a wide range of locker features and options to select from. Working with a storage solution expert can help you find the solution that best fits your department.