At a recent meeting of the Standards Review and Interpretation Committee (SRIC) the committee directed staff to post for client comments the following proposed standard revision. Please post your comments prior to Friday January 22nd, 2021.
Standard 83.2.1 was revised with bullets added in the 6th edition manual. It is recognized that 83.2.1 (d) is duplicative and recommended for deletion. Also, it is recommended that the word “accredited” is added to the 83.3.2 standard statement.
83.2.1 (LE1) (M M M M) (LE1) Guidelines and Procedures
A written directive establishes guidelines and procedures used for collecting, processing, and preserving physical evidence in the field, and includes;
a. first responder responsibilities and precautions;
b. procedures for the collection, storage, and transportation of evidence;
c. evidence collection training requirements for persons collecting evidence;
d. procedures for the submission of evidence to accredited laboratories; and e. transfer of custody of physical evidence.
The agency should develop general guidelines for its approach to crime scene processing. For example, the first rule may be to secure and protect the crime scene. Agency policy should dictate whether processing is to be conducted by field personnel or specialists. Processing procedures should determine the progression of tasks, such as photograph, sketch, fingerprint, mark, and collect. It is important to recognize DNA evidence may be used to identify and eliminate suspects in cases, and specific protocols should be established to ensure DNA evidence collected remains available for these purposes, which may extend beyond related convictions in some cases. The directive should also provide guidelines for the preferred methods of collecting, marking/labeling, and packaging/storing a variety of evidentiary items. Methods used are those that should preserve the condition of evidence in the process of collection, prevent the introduction of foreign materials to it, and ensure as complete a sample as possible and practical. For physical evidence to be accepted by the court at time of trial, it is essential that the chain of evidence be maintained. The initial step in this process is marking or labeling the item at the time it is collected, seized, or received. Items should be marked so as not to damage or contaminate the evidence. Items that cannot be marked should be placed in an appropriate container, sealed, and the container labeled. For all items of evidence gathered at a crime scene, the investigator and/or processor should prepare a list containing a description of the item collected (including make, model, and serial number, if any), the source (person or location obtained from), and the name of the person collecting the item. The inventory is essential to the investigator and the processor for recording activities at the scene and qualifying the evidence at the time of trial. If the evidence is transferred to another person prior to being logged in with the agency, documenting the transfer is critical to maintaining the chain of custody. The record of transfer of physical evidence should include the following: date and time of transfer; receiving person's name and functional responsibility; reason for the transfer; name and location of the laboratory; synopsis of the event; examinations desired; and date of transfer to a laboratory not within the agency. Evidence requiring information to be submitted to national databases should be done in a timely manner. This standard applies to all persons, functions, and components responsible for collecting evidence. (M M M M) (LE1)
83.3.2 (LE1) (M M M M) (LE1) Evidence, Laboratory Submission
A written directive establishes procedures for submitting evidence to a forensic laboratory, which include:
a. identification of the person responsible for submitting the evidence;
b. methods for packaging and transmitting evidence to the laboratory;
c. types of documentation to accompany evidence when transmitted;
d. receipts to ensure maintenance of chain of evidence; and
e. stipulation that laboratory results be submitted in writing.
The written directive should specify procedures for submission of perishable evidence to the forensic laboratory, such as fresh blood, blood stained objects, other physiological stains and tissue, and biological materials. Large and bulky items, firearms, drugs, and other items should be prepared in a uniform manner that is consistent with the requirements of the receiving laboratory. The responsibility for requesting laboratory examinations and preparing and transmitting the evidence to the laboratory should be defined. Guidelines for the types and preparation of transmittal documents should be described. Chain of custody should be carefully maintained. Verbal reports from the laboratory may be accepted, but the agency should insist these be followed up by a written report. When the laboratory is part of the agency, the directive should specify that written reports of findings are provided. When a laboratory is not part of the agency, a transmittal letter or written request, as a part of the evidence transmittal form should be used to request a written report of laboratory findings. (M M M M) (LE1)