Evidence Management: The Packaging Guru – Part 1

Posted on: Jun 01, 2022

Categories: Evidence Management, Evidence management training, Evidence Training

“The Evidence Show” is hosted by the Evidence Management Institute Executive Director Shawn Henderson. Not to spoil the plot, but The Evidence Show is… a show about evidence management. 

In each episode, Shawn takes a look at the unique issues that impact evidence managers and custodians and the law enforcement community in general. Each episode is infused with interesting guests, expert tips, and helpful information. In this episode, Doug Peavey – who has over 40 years of experience providing police departments with better packaging materials – shared a wealth of information about evidence packaging, applications, and best practices.

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***Doug – top, Shawn – center, James – bottom  


Shawn began the webinar by saying, “Thank you for being here. We’ll direct your attention to a couple of things we do at the beginning of each show. First, is the Evidence Management Community Forum on Facebook. Nearly 800 evidence custodians have joined and are using it to great effect. 

The forum gives you a place to ask questions and look for answers that you may not have found on your own. We created it to have a community where people can talk openly about their evidence management challenges and/or share their unique solutions. Although it was created back at the beginning of the pandemic, we continue to see a growing number of people using it as a powerful resource. 

I’d also like to direct your attention to Tracker Products. This webinar was made possible because of our partnership with them. They’re an evidence management software solution, and I highly recommend you check them out. They keep the lights on here, and we are very appreciative of that. 

Okay… enough preamble. Let’s jump right in. Today we have a Packaging Guru in our midst. There aren’t very many people in the world that are as interested in packaging and materials. I thought I was alone, and then I met James. James was very similar. We have the same kind of interests. And then, we started talking with Doug. 

Doug’s life’s work is manufacturing evidence packaging and crime scene materials. I wanted to bring Doug on and give him a chance to show some of the cool stuff that they’ve got in the works. I hope this will give you a chance to hear from somebody that is in the industry but has a different perspective.

It’s nice to interface with folks who work in the industry that are able to see evidence management challenges and solutions from a different angle. We’ve all got the same end goal. We all want to package and preserve evidence appropriately. So, I thought it’d be cool to talk to someone that gives us access to the materials that enable us to achieve our goals. 

That’s why we’ve got James and The Packaging Guru here. The way that they approach things is pretty cool. Doug has not proclaimed himself as the packaging guru, I did. He’s shaking his head no, but really he secretly is. 

So what are we talking about today? We’ll do some quick updates. I wanna reintroduce you to our packaging specifications guide that we’ve put out. We’ll talk a little about what that is and what we’re hoping to accomplish there. We’re also gonna put it on our website. If it’s not already there, then we’ve been remiss. We will get it up on our website post haste.

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We’re also going to talk again about the Lynn Peavey Company and introduce you to Doug. We’ll talk about some cool products that they’ve got in the pipeline. And, I think it would be really cool to spend some time at the end so you can ask questions of somebody that manufacturers packaging materials. I know I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and say, Hey, what’s the deal with this? 

Quite honestly, I hope we have Doug on periodically because we’re gonna spend a lot of time talking about tamper-tape today; and just tape in general. But, they manufacture a lot more than just tape. 

So again, thank you for being here, and without any further ado,  let’s talk about what we were trying to accomplish with this package specifications guide. The material that you use to package your evidence is incredibly important. 

The more work that James and I do in the area of consulting, the more things we see. I’m sure Doug sees a lot of things from an industry perspective. But, when you walk through an evidence vault and see the tape is coming off all of the packages, there’s a problem with the tape. The problem with your tape is usually two things: One, the tape that you’re provided is usually from the lowest vendor bid. Or two, you just don’t know what to ask for. This guide will answer some of the questions about the types of materials that you need for evidence packaging and evidence management.


That’s Doug Peavey’s life’s blood. His work is dedicated to creating materials for evidence packaging. So, this is Doug Peavey. He is the president of the Lynn Peavey Company. And if you’re not familiar with the Lynn Peavey Company, they manufacture evidence packaging and crime scene processing materials. So, I’ll let you introduce yourself, Doug.”

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Doug said, “Thanks. We’ve been in business for 40 years now and started out from a humble beginning. I graduated from SMU in Dallas and finished up in Mizzou… after we burned our fraternity house down. At the time, my dad and my grandfather had two different businesses and they made me an offer. They go, We’ll give you a desk, a phone, and a chair, but you’ve gotta figure out your niche. 

So, I decided, Hey, I’ll get into law enforcement. Since I’d never been arrested in the past, that sounded like a good place to start. I was in law enforcement from the beginning. Basically, we have grown through collaboration with you guys in law enforcement. Because it doesn’t matter if we develop a product and we think it’s great, the proof is in the pudding. You guys gt to decide what’s good and what’s bad. 

We take your innovative ideas and then see if we can develop those things into brand new products. I don’t have any desire to copy other people. We will if we’re forced to, if that’s the way the feedback goes, but I like doing things on the edge. 

As Shawn mentioned earlier, we manufacture a multitude of crime scene processing products: DNA kits, fingerprint powders and brushes, narcotics kits, sexual assault kits, alternate light sources… all sorts of different things.

And, likewise about different packaging products for you guys in the property rooms as well. We’ve got a world worldwide scope, which gives us a better perspective in terms of getting feedback from all over the world. So I’ve got tons of things coming at me from 10 or 15 different directions all at once. 

I’ve trenched through the jungles trying to help solve a crime scene in a foreign land. We developed certain products for them because they had to deal with such intense humidity. But, I couldn’t say that I’ve done this all myself. I’ve got the best support and production staff you’ll ever find. Hopefully, they are making the best products for you. And if not, let them know. And those guys won’t do it, let me know.”

Shawn said, “Let me point out one of the key differences between Lynn Peavey and their suppliers. I ran a crime scene unit for our police department and later I ran a property room. One of the reasons I liked working with Lynn Peavey was because they actually manufacture these materials. There’s an important distinction. They do research and they do rigorous testing on these materials before they go to market. For me, as a user of their stuff, I could depend on their products.

When you are able to actually ask the manufacturer about the quality – not just the price – what you receive in the end is measurably better. I’ll also say, when you call them they’re like the Chick-fil-A of evidence supply companies. I’m not gonna mention any other companies because we’re talking to Doug. But, I’ve called other places when I was working crime scenes and it always made me mad. Every time I called Lynn Peavey – and I called a lot a – it’s always been like Chick-fil-A. So thank you, Doug. I appreciate that as a consumer.”

Doug said, “One other thing to add to what you said… being a manufacturer gives us a whole lot of control over the quality of our products. I’m really a stickler in terms of quality. If I just distributed somebody else’s product and it doesn’t work for you guys, I can’t do that much about it. I want to have complete control over quality and production.”

James joined the conversation and said, “I just want to make a comment real quick. For Shawn to compare you to Chick-fil-A is the ultimate compliment he could ever pay. Cuz I know he’s a huge supporter of Chick-fil-A and pays most of their salaries with his meals.” 

Shawn laughed and said, “So talk to us about evidence tape. We can either talk about packaging tape in general or more specifically tamper tape. They are two totally different products when we’re talking about tape.”

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I’m so passionate about evidence tape. As I mentioned earlier I don’t play golf. I don’t have the patience to chase down a little white ball that I hit and can’t find. So I generally just try to focus on developing the best products with your guy’s input. I need input from the evidence management community on a lot of different things.

When we developed evidence tape 35 years ago, we had to look through a whole lot of different things. You’ve got film substrate and substrate selection. You’ve got to be dealing with a host of different materials out there. There’s vinyl. There’s paper. There are polypropylenes, acetates, laminates, and topcoats to make sure that it’s printable. So you got to select the right combination and sometimes the combination was too fragile.

If you’re talking about chain of custody tape, then you get into the adhesive selection. That gets you into the world of acrylics, rubber-based, hot melts, combo formulations, permanent, and then really permanent. We also tweak the edges to make sure that it sticks. 

There are going be people that are gonna say, Your tape sucks because I can’t peel it off. But that’s the way that it’s supposed to work. You don’t want it to fall apart in your hands. When you’re placing evidence tape on a package, ideally you don’t want it to fall apart in your hands and wrap your fingers up and then have to start all over again. That’s a total waste.

Then, there’s the stability and the suitability. It’s no secret that law enforcement in general and evidence custodians in particular that say, I need this to seal up this package and stay there for 50, 75, a hundred, or 150 years. And, it just can’t be done. But, we’ve gotta try to get as close as possible. We try to do the best we can. 

You’ve got sheer strength, in terms of the torque that you might put on it. You’ve got tack, do you want a tacky adhesive? Do you want a non-tacky adhesive, that’s gonna stick a lot longer? We go through a ton of accelerated aging and printability tests stuff that you probably don’t worry about.

The next point is the freshness of the adhesive. I really feel strongly about that. Fortunately, we’ve got enough volume of raw material with our suppliers that we can buy this stuff over and over and over again. So, I can place 12, 15, 25 orders a year. 

But, if I was a distributor, sometimes they’re buying off-off brands and the adhesive may not be that fresh. Because of that, they don’t know what the shelf life is. So, you do have to worry about that. I always say fresher tape works better. Just like the milk in your refrigerator. It’s gonna taste a lot better the first day than it’s gonna taste on the 14th day. And probably after 14 days, you’re gonna say, I just need to pitch it. 

The last point that I’ve got is, we’ve gotta evaluate, ‘consumers versus law enforcement.’ A permanent adhesive for a consumer… They think that all a box sealing tape is supposed to do is seal the top of a box and move the package from Kansas City to Dallas, for example. If that package holds, that’s good enough. But in law enforcement, as we all know, we’ve got a much more critical package there, and it does need to stick and stay on for a very long time.

So it’s, it’s kinda trial and error, especially with the way that people today are. Now, they’re trying to cheapen up their products. They’re putting in oils and other fillers so they can dilute out their product. It’s just not a good idea. But then again, that’s what we’re faced with in law enforcement.”


Shawn asked, “How old is too old for tamper tape? When does it start to degrade?”

Doug said, “Two years. That’s the most. You can go to many other manufacturers, they won’t even say anything about that even for products going overseas. I wouldn’t do that because that is very shady. Generally, with adhesives and the componentry that goes into it, it’s going to be a maximum shelf life of two years. We now place a UV indicator that tells you the born-on date. All you’ve gotta do is shine your little UV light on it and you can see, Hey, this, this tape was manufactured in July of 2021 (for example), so you’ve got two years to apply it to packages.”

Shawn said, “I imagine high heat and humidity and fluctuating temperature conditions is like the death knell for any type of packaging tape. Is that accurate?”

Doug said, “Yes. Selling to Florida, Minnesota and Vietnam are three different deals. You’ve got to come up with a balance between that. We custom formulate our adhesives, so I think our solutions are pretty adaptable. They’re not perfect, but don’t think that you’re ever gonna find a perfect one-size-fits-all solution out there.”

Shawn said, “So, if someone was in central Florida where it’s very humid or in Southern California, where it’s not humid at all, should people in those two regions buy two totally different kinds of tape? That’s something that we had not really thought about when we made our spec guide, but maybe we need to include it?”

Doug said, “I wouldn’t go there because that would reduce our volumes (which would increase the price) and we couldn’t offer you the same tape at the same price. Cost is a factor, and I don’t think that law enforcement is ready for a Lamborghini type of product. Your chief or your sheriff is probably not going say, Yeah, pay any price to get this thing sealed up. There are certain types of freezer tape adhesives and ones that work better with humidity, but we try to listen to everybody and come up with a good middle-of-the-road solution that resolves it for the majority.”

James said, “I’d like to jump in on this. The reality is, there’s no one size fits all solution. But, let’s face it, when you are applying tamper-proof tape to an item, you’re already at a station. The only time you’re ever going to take that item out is if it goes to a forensic environment, to the lab, or to court. So, if you have a temperature-controlled room, then it really doesn’t matter whether you’re in Hawaii, Florida, or California. As long as that tape is gonna last the duration of time, then I think we’re good.

I mean, I get the humidity thing and  I guess there are situations where someone would have a warehouse that has no temperature controls, but they’ve really got to think twice about whether  that’s the best practice for storing critical evidence.”

Doug said, “On the border, for example, CBP customs border patrol uses our stuff. I don’t think they’ve got air-conditioned trucks down there. They’re probably 150 degrees, with hot, humid, and muggy conditions. But, they still expect the tape to seal.

You’ve also got to factor in how much they are packing into their bags, envelopes, or boxes. We’ve really got to teach those guys. Most of the people that are watching this webinar are going to be intelligent about that. But the other guys, the thousands of other guys out there don’t know that you can’t put 10 pounds in a three-pound bag. It’s just impossible, but they still do it.”

Tracker Products and The Evidence Management Institute want to give you something productive to think about during this time of uncertainty… a series of free online evidence management training and panel discussions. Watch and comment on the webinars here. Or – to get in on the discussion, with over 800 evidence custodians – join the Evidence Management Community Forum on Facebook.

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