Why Complete Control is Necessary in the Storage of Biological Evidence
Our criminal justice system, built on truth and justice, continues to protect the innocent by convicting and punishing the guilty.
The biological evidence of a case is one of the primary methods of conviction for a crime, yet so many law enforcement agencies still utilize incomplete or faulty methods for handling this important piece of a case.
Did you know your current handling and storing practices may actually be compromising important biological evidence?
Below are five common practices that may be compromising your evidence:
- Use of biological material within court – Courts are often not equipped to provide proper storage capabilities while evidence is being used for the trial. There also exists the danger that evidence stored in plastic bags will be opened and closed frequently, causing greater potential for contamination.
Solution: Attempt to obtain a stipulation from all parties involved that allows secondary evidence (photographs, computer images, etc.) to be used in the place of important biological evidence.
- Neglect of proper drying techniques – Biological evidence should be stored in a dry place and/or dry condition; however, many times the drying process is not performed with caution. Large cloth-like material that contains evidence should be spread out to allow for consistent drying. Heat should not be used on evidence to speed the drying process. And the temperature and room humidity must always be monitored properly.
Solution: Ensure that your agency is equipped with an area designated for drying evidence that contains proper air filtration and temperature control. Standalone laboratory filtration units, such as our evidence drying cabinets, provide a convenient solution.
- Refrigeration without moisture control – While some evidence needs to be stored in cool temperatures, this method is not failproof. Many agencies have recently found mold contamination an issue within refrigerator storage from lack of moisture control. One such case in Austin found mold on hundreds of sexual assault kits that had not yet even been processed.
Solution: Always store biological evidence in controlled environments that allow adjustment of temperature and humidity.
- Packaging in plastic – Plastic can accelerate the decomposition of biological evidence and can encourage the growth of mold or mildew because of the higher moisture environment it encourages.
Solution: Always package biological evidence in paper, especially for long-term storage. If plastic must be used temporarily in court, always return to paper for further storage.
- Combined drying proximity – Allowing various samples of biological evidence to dry in the same area with no decontamination or controlled protection can lead to faulty case results.
Solution: Always dry samples in a separate and completely decontaminated area for evidence protection.
Ultimately, the extent to which you are able to control the environment for handling and storing your biological evidence will determine the integrity of your evidence. Make sure that your biological evidence is handled correctly from first processing to long-term storage.
Find optimal control over all aspects of the handling and storing process with specially designed forensic laboratory equipment by Air Science. Our entire Safekeeper® series provides proper handling and storage of biological evidence during any stage of the chain of custody. From our Safeswab Swab Drying Cabinets to our Benchtop Decontamination Chambers, Air Science provides solutions to all of your forensic needs.