Police departments amass digital evidence each year and must have a way to manage that evidence. They train officers to review and recover evidence, and each department must collect and store the evidence using best practices while adhering to all laws and regulations. Any lost or mishandled evidence can lead to a case being dismissed and the agency’s credibility suffering. To avoid this, many departments invest in evidence management software. What features should a department look for when making this purchase?
Any software program being considered should offer different storage options. Small departments often make use of in-house storage, while a larger department may choose to benefit from a hybrid on-site/cloud solution. In addition, the program needs to be scalable, as the department’s collection of digital evidence will expand with time. Avoid vendors offering proprietary storage solutions. It’s difficult to move from this solution once it is in place, and the vendor may raise prices significantly knowing this.
When choosing a software provider, ensure they will provide help in migrating existing digital evidence to the new program. This team should also be available for technical support in the future. The team will have experience in various subject matters to ensure clients get the answers they need in a timely manner. This could be important in a case, so never overlook this aspect of the software purchase.
Defense attorneys like to question the integrity of digital evidence, as they believe doing so may help their clients. They suggest the evidence has been altered in some way, hoping this will lead to reasonable doubt on the part of the jurors. If they are successful, the evidence could be thrown out by the judge. This may lead to the case being lost and the defendant going free. File hashing helps to prevent this. The hashing takes place when the file is put into the system. The program can then generate a report for any digital evidence in a case to prove the integrity of each piece.
Law enforcement agencies often need to share digital evidence with other parties, such as the prosecutor or another agency. The selected program should make it easy to do so. This ensures the material makes it into the right hands. However, citizens may also choose to share evidence with law enforcement officials. For instance, countless homes in the country today have video doorbells, and most people have a smartphone.
Video evidence may be collected from these devices for use in a case. Ensure the software program will allow this type of sharing. Sending the items by email can lead to public disclosure of the evidence, which can be detrimental to the case. The right program allows for citizen sharing.
These software programs come with many features. Some features are beneficial to have but aren’t necessary. Other features remain crucial. The four features mentioned above fall into the second category. For that reason, any person responsible for purchasing this type of software should ensure the program they choose comes with the features mentioned. Doing so will allow the agency to benefit more from the program.