Changing the Culture of Evidence Management – Part 2

Posted on: Jul 02, 2020

Categories: Evidence Management, Evidence management training, Evidence Training

In this webinar, Shawn Henderson, Executive Director of the Evidence Management Institute, discussed: the characteristics of the culture of evidence management, a forward view of evidence management, four things you can do to effect change, and two fun evidence management by-products of COVID-19 and culture change.

Shawn discussed the first two topics in Part 1 of Changing the Culture of Evidence Management. In this article, he discusses the latter two topics. He said, “There are four things that you can do right now to start changing the culture of evidence management in your city and your municipality. Connect, develop, advocate, and influence. This is what you can do today if you choose to to start making a difference. 

evidence management culture

The first thing that you can do is connect. If I were you – and if I lived in one of the 12 States that has a state property evidence association – I’d join that State Property Evidence Association. There is value in community. There is power. There is influence in a group of people gathered together with one common goal. 

If you’ve got a group of evidence custodians and you’re in a state that doesn’t have an association, we’re going to make it really easy for you. The Evidence Management Institute has an initiative. We wanted to kick it off and, by the end of 2020, we wanted to see 20 associations across the United States, but we might extend it, due to the Covid-19. 

But, we will help you establish an organization and we will help you get it up and running. And we will fund the filing and legal fees to make sure that you’re set up for success; from the beginning. There is no better investment in your energy, as an evidence manager, than being a part of one of those associations. Because the laws are different in every state, talking about evidence issues at the local level just makes sense.


develop culture

The next thing that you can do is start to develop yourself; build your knowledge, skills and abilities. Get on our website and start reading the things that are free and available to you. We published our standards and best practices online. Become well versed in those. 

I would also encourage you to start trying to develop others. Reach out to other evidence custodians in the municipality next to you. If you haven’t done that, find out who that person is and strike up a conversation with them. Start developing each other. The relationships that you build with the people next door to you, they’re going to pay amazing dividends and they’re going to help you build community.


The third thing is advocacy. Becoming an advocate is different than just being an evidence custodian that punches the clock at eight in the morning and punches it again at five o’clock in the afternoon. 

Being an advocate is an active choice. An advocate is someone that participates in change and you can make that choice. You’re the absolute expert at your agency. No one knows more than you do about evidence management than you. And if there is someone that knows more, get to know them and learn from them.


You can be the expert at your agency and an advocate for your own agency’s evidence. That’s going to help establish and build influence with the other people in the building. When they realize that you’re serious about your job, you’re committed, you’re passionate about evidence management, that’s going to help you build and develop influence. If you’d like to advocate on a different scale. We’ve got a couple of projects at the Evidence Management Institute that I would invite you to participate in. 

One of the things that we’ve started working on is a guidebook for evidence laws in each of the 50 States. We can’t do that with just our office staff. That’s just not going to happen. But if you would love to become an evidence advocate, especially at your own state level, and you would like to help other evidence managers and evidence custodians in your state, contact me, help me figure this out. Help me put this together so that we can have a resource that’s available for other people. 

We’re not going to take this as our own work or pretend that we did it on our own. Because this is not a single person effort. We want this to be a community effort; a crowdsourced effort to start to build community and see who exists out there, who is interested, and who makes a difference. 

The same with our standards and best practices. It would warm my heart to have someone email me tomorrow and say, Hey, I read your standards and best practices guide. I disagree with you on the following five things. We might not agree, but I would love to have a conversation. The goal for us at the evidence management Institute is to have a body of standards and best practices that answers questions for evidence managers all across the country.


We haven’t written biological evidence standards or best practices for the evidence management Institute because it’s already been done better – the NIST guide. That’s the body of work that we refer people to for biological evidence. We want to point people in the right direction for the best information that’s out there. And if we don’t produce it, we’ll help you find it.


The last thing that you can do today is develop your influence. I would love to see people volunteer to moderate the Facebook Evidence Management Community Forum who are evidence managers, or at least have an interest in working in evidence management. 

It’s the place for you to share your successes, to share opportunities, to share solutions with each other; and can be used as a sounding board ,or as a place to bring people together and share ideas. So, if you are interested in moderating that forum, I would love to see active evidence managers, who are working in the field, take it over and we’ll take a step back. It has value when it has a life of its own; when it’s self-sustaining. So, if you love to moderate, that’s a great way to begin to develop influence, to build community, to get to know people, and to start conversations. 

That’s a great way to start changing the culture around us. The more we’re connected together as evidence managers, the more we build community. And that’s really where things begin to change.


I’ll talk about two fun things that are by-products of Covid -19, in regards to evidence management culture change. Two of the things that we’re working on, as soon as we finish this webinar series: A podcast called the Evidence Show, that you can listen to any time, and I’m going to publish a guide and evidence management handbook for police chiefs and for sheriffs. And I would love your help. I would love your input. 

That’s something that we’re going to produce and I’m not sure when that’s gonna come out, but that’s something that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t stuck here in the office because of Covid-19. Look for those to come out. If you’d like to participate, I would welcome you to be part of the project.

The Evidence Management Institute and Tracker Products want to give you something productive to think about during this time of uncertainty. This is the sixth webinar in a series of free evidence management training and panel discussions. Watch and comment on the recordings here, or – to get in on the discussion – join the Evidence Management Community Forum.