Minnesota Department of Corrections

 

Instruction:                 107.055RC                             Title:   Evidence Handling

Issue date:                  4/8/08

Effective date:            4/15/08

 

AUTHORITY:           Policy 107.055, "Evidence Handling."

 

PURPOSE:     To establish procedures for the collection, preservation, storage, and disposal of evidence.

 

APPLICABILITY:     Minnesota Correctional Facility - Rush City (MCF-RC).

 

INSTRUCTION:       All MCF-RC staff will maintain the integrity and credibility of evidence to be used in disciplinary proceedings and/or criminal cases.  Staff who confiscate contraband/evidence are responsible for it until they process it through the evidence procedures.  The Discipline Unit will establish and maintain procedures for controlled access to evidence storage areas and make arrangements for the safe and secure disposal of evidence and contraband.

 

DEFINITIONS:

Drugs - all non-prescribed mood-controlling substances, including but not limited to alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, barbiturates, opiate, and hallucinogens.

 

Weapon - any gun, knife, club, pointed/sharpened or cutting instrument, any object or item that may be so classified if altered, located or used in such a manner that its use as a weapon can be inferred.

 

Alcohol, liquid or fermented liquid (hooch) - any alcoholic beverages, including fermenting liquids or ingredients thereof.

 

Sharps - includes but is not limited to razor blades, syringes, tattoo needles, etc.

 

Offender personal property - any authorized personal item allowed into the facility, purchased by the offender, including but not limited to clothing, television, radios and canteen items.

 

PROCEDURES:

A.        Evidence collection

1.         When possible, evidence will be left where found until determination of whether or not to process the area as a crime scene.  If an incident may be a crime scene, the watch commander will:

a)         Notify investigative unit as soon as possible for a determination who will process the crime scene.

 

b)         If a victim or suspect must be removed to a different area for treatment or protection, ensure photos are taken and clothing secured for evidence.  Record exact location and position(s) of victim(s).

 

c)         If weapon(s) are involved, staff may need to move prior to processing.  Mark the area and photograph.  Secure the weapon(s) as contraband.  If possible before removal of the object, ensure measurements and sketches of the area.

 

            2.         Processing the crime scene basic checklist:

                        a)         Observations - staff will:

                                    (1)        Protect the scene (seal it off is possible).

 

(2)        Keep other staff and offenders out.  Maintain a log of anyone entering crime scene and the reason for entering.

 

(3)        Inspect victim(s) and suspect(s).  Confiscate clothing worn and any other item that may be relevant to the incident.

 

                        b)         Note taking - all staff must:

                                    (1)        Begin note taking immediately.

 

                                    (2)        Identify every important detail observed.

 

                                    (3)        Identify all staff and offenders, noting their movement.

 

c)         Photography (see also Instruction 107.054RC, "Preservation of OSI Digital Still Photos.")  Staff must photograph all evidence in its original location or container before it is processed.

            (1)        Photograph the entire scene.

 

            (2)        Photograph victim(s) and suspect(s) wounds.

 

            (3)        Keep photo log of all photographs taken.

 

(4)        Mark all film and digital storage devices with name(s), date, photographer and subject(s).

 

                        d)         Sketches - staff will:

(1)        Take measurements from known fixed points, of all evidence to use later to pinpoint location at scene.

 

(2)        Identify person(s) assisting with sketches.

 

(3)        Place name(s), date, time, and subject description on sketch.

 

e)         Collections (weapons, blood, semen, hair, fibers, prints, soil, documents, etc.) - staff will:

(1)        Determine proper instrument container and marking for evidence collection.

 

(2)        Maintain the chain of evidence.

 

                        f)          Preservation and security - staff will:

                                    (1)        Determine if evidence is perishable (refrigerate if necessary).

 

                                    (2)        Place in evidence lockers immediately.

 

3.         Staff must handle all evidence in such a manner as to preserve fingerprints, blood, samples, etc.

 

4.         The staff discovering the evidence must gather and place the evidence into proper containers using the evidence supplies located in the evidence cabinet in the watch commander's office.  The evidence must then be placed in a designated evidence locker located outside the Watch Center.  If this cannot be done immediately, the staff must secure the evidence in a locked area until it may be placed in an evidence locker.  Items that are too large to fit in an evidence locker must be properly labeled and placed in the Discipline Unit outside the evidence room.

 

5.         Only the discovering officer may touch the evidence.

 

6.         When appropriate the discovering officer will place the evidence/contraband items in an evidence bag and heat seal the evidence bag unless the evidence requires a different type of handling (i.e., sharps or body fluids - see below).  The evidence procedures explain collection, transportation, and marking of the evidence.  For additional information on safe handling of sharps, body fluids or infectious material refer to Policy 105.170, "Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan."

 

7.         The discovering officer will place the evidence label (attached) on the evidence container, completing the following information:

a)         Case number - stamped on the Evidence Property Report (attached) in the upper right hand corner.  Staff must record this case number in the space provided on the evidence label placed on the evidence container;

 

b)         Contents - indicate what the contraband is (i.e., razor, shank, drugs, etc.);

 

c)         Date and time of seizure - indicate the date and time the contraband was confiscated;

 

d)         Sealing official - staff member sealing the evidence in the evidence locker will place his/her name in the blank provided.

 

e)         Watch commander's signature - watch commander witnessing the sealing of the evidence in the evidence locker will place his/her signature in the blank provided.

 

 

8.         Fill out the Evidence Inventory Report.

a)         Offender full name and OID;

 

b)         Date and time of confiscation;

 

c)         Location of confiscation;

 

d)         Name of discovering officer;

 

e)         Locker number;

 

f)          Quantity of evidence (example:  approximately two liters of hooch);  and

 

g)         Brief description of the contraband.

 

h)         After filling out the above listed information, the discovering officer will attach the Evidence Inventory Report to the evidence bag.  Staff will request an evidence key from the watch commander.  The watch commander will enter the information on the watch report.

 

9.         Special handling precautions regarding proper storage and processing of evidence.

a)         Clothes - when staff confiscate clothes containing any of the materials listed below to be collected as evidence they must be stored in a paper bag to preserve the evidence.  The paper bag must be placed into a red biohazard bag when transporting the items to the evidence lockers.  The plastic bag must be rolled down and left under the paper bag in the evidence locker.  The employee must label the paper bag with the biohazard symbol and specifically identify the hazard and list the contents.    The red plastic biohazard bags are located in every living unit, in the evidence cabinet located in the Watch Center, and Health Services as part of the blood clean-up kits.

(1)        Blood;

 

(2)        Semen;

 

(3)        Hairs; or

 

(4)        Other bodily secretions.

 

b)         Liquid or fermented liquid (hooch)

(1)        Staff will photograph the suspected hooch in the original container in the location where it was discovered and place it in evidence along with the liquid sample and original container, noting the approximate quantity on the Evidence Inventory Report.

 

(2)        Staff must place a sample of the liquid and any particles in a labeled evidence bottle, flushing the remaining liquid with a witness present.  The evidence cabinet in the Squad Office contains cups with holes punched in the tops for proper venting, specifically designed for storing hooch samples.  Staff must properly label the cups with offender name, OID, location of confiscation, date, time, etc., taking care not to cover the vent holes with the label.

 

(3)        Staff will place the original container that the liquid was found in into the evidence locker.  The sample bottle must be placed into the evidence refrigerator in the Watch Center as evidence.  (If there is more than one original container, there must be a sample from each container and each container must be retained as evidence.)

 

c)         Drugs - must be placed in an evidence container and labeled.  This includes all drugs confiscated during attempts to smuggle/introduce contraband into the facility, unless otherwise directed by the Watch Commander, Discipline Unit or higher authority.

 

d)         Sharps - all sharps (razor blades, syringes, tattoo needles, etc.) must be placed into evidence using a puncture-resistant protective container.  Appropriate size protective containers are available in the evidence cabinet in the Squad Office and/or Health Services.  Staff must use extreme caution when handling sharps.  All sharps must be tagged with a biohazard label, also available in the Squad Office.  The Discipline Unit will dispose of all sharps via an approved sharps container.

 

e)         Videotapes - tapes must be labeled with offender name, OID, date, and location of incident.  An Evidence Inventory Sheet must then be completed and placed into evidence along with the tape.

 

f)          Weapons - all weapons must be placed into an evidence container and labeled.  If the weapon has a sharp edge a puncture-resistant container must be used in accordance with the evidence handbook.

 

g)         Photographs - (see also Instruction 107.054RC, "Preservation of OSI Digital Still Photos.") for all items, staff must remember to take photographs of evidence in the original location and/or container if possible.  When photographs are required, the watch commander will issue a camera and a memory card to staff.  Staff will take the necessary photographs, return the camera to the watch commander, and place the memory card into evidence.  Staff will treat and handle photographs as evidence, with proper labels, placement in evidence container, evidence inventory sheets completed and secured in the evidence locker.

(1)        Memory cards must be numbered, issued, and logged in the watch report by the watch commander.

 

(2)        Staff will include the number of photos taken and the memory card number on the incident report.

 

(3)        Staff must use a new memory card for each incident.

 

(4)        Staff will photograph injuries, weapons, damage to property, tattoos, etc.

 

h)         Urine - all urinalysis samples resulting in positive results, as tested by a "point of collection" device, must be maintained through chain of evidence procedures (see Instruction 205.230RC, "Offender Drug Testing").

 

10.       Staff failure to accurately complete the Evidence Inventory Report may hamper disciplinary action and/or pending criminal prosecution.  When the Discipline Unit receives an incomplete or inaccurate inventory report, the inventory report will be returned to the officer to be completed as specified.

 

B.         Securing evidence - staff:  evidence must be secured in the evidence locker.  Evidence includes all drugs confiscated during attempts to smuggle/introduce contraband into the facility, unless watch commander or higher authority directs otherwise.  Staff must:

            1.         Request the key from the watch commander and fill out the Evidence Key Log;

 

            2.         Place the evidence, with the attached Evidence Inventory Sheet, into the locker;

 

            3.         Close the door, remove the key from the lock and ensure the lock is secure;

 

            4.         Deposit the key into locker #108; and

 

5.         Keep the area in and around the evidence lockers and evidence cabinet neat and orderly to ensure the credibility of the chain of evidence.

 

C.        Evidence removal - the Discipline Unit is responsible for evidence removal from the evidence lockers.  Discipline Unit staff will check the lockers outside the Watch Center when reporting for duty each day.

1.         Discipline Unit staff will use the evidence key #108, which is secured in the Evidence Room, to open the key drop box and retrieve all keys in the box.  To ensure evidence integrity, the Discipline Unit has sole access to the drop box.

 

2.         Discipline Unit staff will unlock the appropriate locker and retrieve the evidence, returning key(s) to the watch commander who will then return the key(s) to the evidence locker key box and mark the keys as "returned" in the Evidence Key Log.

 

3.         Discipline Unit staff will pick up the copies of the detention orders that have been placed in the Discipline Unit box in the Watch Center.

 

4.         Discipline Unit staff will proceed to the Discipline Evidence Room with the evidence and Evidence Inventory Report, securing the items in the Evidence Room.

 

D.        Securing evidence - Discipline Unit: staff must secure the contraband items in the Evidence Room according to the following:

1.         Fill out upper right hand corner of Evidence Inventory Report with required information;

 

2.         Check the Evidence Inventory Report and Evidence Label for accuracy:

 

3.         Place the original copy of the Evidence Inventory Report in the appropriate 3-ring binder;

 

4.         Put evidence in the appropriate storage place and attach a copy of the Evidence Inventory Report and/or label clearly;  and

 

5.         If the evidence (contraband) is either weapons or drugs, secure it in the security chest within the Evidence Room.

 

E.         Checking out evidence

1.         Only the Discipline Unit or higher authority is authorized to check out evidence from the Discipline Evidence Room once the evidence has been secured.  The Special Investigator is the only one authorized to check out evidence that is being used for criminal prosecutions.

 

2.         When any of the authorized personnel desires to check out evidence from the Evidence Room, the Discipline Unit staff will locate the evidence.  The person requesting the evidence will place his/her signature and date on the Evidence Inventory Report in the assigned place:  By____________, Date _____________.

 

3.         Upon return of the evidence to the Evidence Room, the person who checks out the evidence will place his signature and date on the Evidence Inventory Report in the assigned place:  By____________, Date _____________.

 

4.         Staff checking out evidence are responsible to maintain the chain of evidence, preservation of that evidence, and maintaining exclusive control of evidence that has been checked out.  Staff must direct any questions to the Discipline Unit Supervisor and/or Special Investigator.

 

F.         Evidence disposal - evidence will be either released or disposed of after 45 days from adjudication of incident.  If there is the possibility of outside charges or there are outside charges pending, the evidence must be turned over to the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) 45 days from adjudication of the incident.  If OSI requests the evidence prior to this date, Discipline Unit staff must notify the Discipline Unit Supervisor.  Discipline Unit staff will document this procedure on the Evidence Inventory Report, noting the date of disposal and the manner of disposal.  At Discipline Unit Supervisor discretion some evidence may be kept for training purposes.

1.         Drugs - the Discipline Investigator will dispose of drugs and witnessed by the Special Investigator, Discipline Unit Supervisor, the Captain, or Associate Warden of Administration.  Drugs will be disposed of by flushing them down the toilet.  This action will be documented on the Evidence Inventory Report with witness signature.

 

2.         Weapons - the Discipline Unit will dispose of weapons, delivering the evidence to the loading dock area and witnessing the disposal of the weapon in the compactor or other pre-determined method unless the weapon is to be kept for training purposes. Disposition will be documented on the Evidence Inventory Report.  If the weapon is a "sharps," it must be placed in a sharps container for safe disposal.

 

3.         Offender personal property - radios, televisions, jewelry, clothes, shoes, etc. are examples of offender personal property that may be involved in a disciplinary report and thereby considered contraband.  The Discipline Unit Supervisor may waive the 45-day guideline for offender property held as evidence, if true ownership is established.  The property will be released to Property Control via Evidence/Property Release Receipt (attached) and then returned to the offender through Property Control procedures.  Personal property that has been contaminated by body fluids must be disposed of.  Shoes, if the exposure is not significant, may after proper cleaning be returned to the offender.

 

For any personal property that is confiscated for the purpose of a disciplinary report and is not allowed in the facility, the Discipline Unit will deliver the item(s) to Property Control for disposition.  The Property Control Officer will send the property to the person/place specified by the offender.  The offender bears the expense of sending his personal property out of the facility.

 

4.         State property - any evidence consisting of altered or damaged state property and considered contraband, but is not being used in any discipline or criminal proceedings, will be released back to Property Control, or disposed of.  The confiscated property will not be returned to the offender.

 

5.         If evidence for which ownership verification is in question is submitted to the Discipline Unit, the Discipline Unit staff will contact Property Control for assistance in identifying the original or rightful owner.  If ownership remains unresolved, the property will be turned over to Property Control for storage or disposal.

 

G.        Entry into Evidence Room - access is restricted to Discipline Unit staff.  Staff who do not have access must be escorted by or under the supervision of Discipline Unit staff.  The key or access pad code of the security lock will be given only to Discipline Unit staff and will be considered "sensitive."  It will not be issued to other staff.

 

REVIEW:       Annually

 

REFERENCES:         Division Directive 301.030, "Contraband."

Policy 105.170, "Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan."

Instruction 205.230RC, "Offender Drug Testing."

Instruction 107.054RC, "Preservation of OSI Digital Still Photos."

 

SUPERSESSION:     Instruction 107.055RC, "Evidence Handling," 3/27/07.

All facility policies, memorandums, or other communications whether verbal, written or transmitted by electronic means regarding this topic.

 

ATTACHMENTS:    MCF- Rush City Evidence Inventory Report

Evidence Identification Label 107.055BRC

 

/s/

Terry J. Carlson, Warden

MCF - Rush City