“The Evidence Show” is hosted by EMI Executive Director Shawn Henderson. Not to spoil the plot, but The Evidence Show is, well… 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 manufacturing and providing police departments with better packaging materials – shared a wealth of information about evidence packaging, applications, and best practices. James Nally
Shawn continued 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 the group 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 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.
Shawn said, “Let’s talk about some new stuff. James and I have actually been able to work with some of your latest developments, which has been fun. So, tell us about a couple of things that y’all are working on. Things that you’ve got in the pipeline.”
***Doug – top, Shawn – center, James – bottom
Doug said, “I’m getting psyched now. The caffeine from this morning is just kicking in. I think this is a great product. We’ve gone through several different combinations, trying to get it as perfect as possible. Now that we’re there, I’ll be releasing this in Nashville next week. If anybody happens to be out there, come by for a sample.
Dual-Use Evidence Tape
This new product is the first dual-use evidence tape out there; one that can be used as a general packaging tape, like a box sealing tape. You can pack up as much as you want because this is made from an aluminum alloy, and it’s made from rolled aluminum.
It’s going to stick and it’s gonna be a good overall packaging tape. But we’ve also put the little edge design on there and special little stop signs cut into specifically for extremely difficult surfaces. Let’s be honest, plastic bags are one of the most difficult surfaces to get anything to stick to because that’s an oil-based product.
But, by going with this new aluminum film, it will. This has got a super aggressive, super tacky, initial tack adhesive and we’ve split-back the liner.”
Shawn said, “James and I have played with it for the last couple of months. And this stuff is extremely, extremely tacky. It’s legit. So, if you want to see what he is talking about, call or email email@example.com for a sample.
Another cool thing that Peavey does is they love to beta test this stuff. They like people to provide input. I think that for evidence custodians in general, it’s cool to work with a company that wants your feedback, wants to improve their product and wants to take your input to change things for the better.
I think getting input from across the country, and across the world – especially dealing with other countries like Vietnam – the operational environment is not the same as it is in Kansas, Southern California, Florida, or Texas. Getting input helps them improve their product. And it helps us get a better product at the end of the day. That’s what I care about, getting evidence custodians and evidence managers the best possible products to package their evidence and to provide police officers with the best possible materials for packaging evidence.”
Lessons from Bee-Keeping
Doug said, “On a personal note… Recently I became a beekeeper. And I had a huge problem. I was killing like two or 300 hundred bees a day because I had a leak in the feeder that I was using. So, I actually took this tape, sealed up all the gaps and it’s still holding well. Now, there are no more dying bees, and that’s a good thing. So, it works underwater as well, but I don’t think that we have too many people dealing with that.”
Shawn said, “But you know what it would be good for, as a water-based application, is for stuff that’s recovered from dive teams. Like when you put stuff in a can, you could use this as a security seal on a can, which is very difficult to deal with.”
Doug said, “I think it would stick pretty well, but you’ve gotta test that out. One other thing… When you get this sample – especially for difficult surfaces – you’ve gotta take your thumb and put some pressure on each one of these little stop signs because once that’s down in place, I think that if you are trying to peel that stuff off in one piece, it won’t work. It’s really fragile and it’s going to fall apart.”
Shawn said, “Yeah. I think that’s the point. That’s why those stop signs are there, right? So that it detects people trying to tamper with it.”
Shawn switched gears and said, “We’ve got some questions rolling in. This one looks like a general question… I like to use plastic bags for items like backpacks that may have scabies. But, does that degrade any evidence?
Shawn laughed and said, “You definitely wanna package it in something. I don’t remember what scabies is, but it sounds awful! I think we’ve got two different issues here. It really depends on why you’ve taken that backpack in to begin with. Like, what kind of evidence are you anticipating is on or within that backpack?
If you believe that it’s got biological materials like blood or tissue, then you don’t want to package it in plastic. You want to dry it out and you want to package it in craft paper or a bag unless you’ve got a plastic bag that’s specifically for that stuff. But the scabies part. Yeah. That’s kind of gross.
But, if it’s like homeless people’s property and you’re not worried about evidentiary value, I think that might be a good use case. Even though I hate heat-seal tubing, the word scabies would make me want to put something in a heat seal tube and seal it up.
Any thoughts, Doug or James?”
James said, “I would just say no matter what you package it in, try to isolate those items so that they won’t contaminate your good evidence. You want to make sure it’s either offsite or in a container so that you’re not contaminating the rest of your evidence.”
Shawn said, “Oh wow. We got lots of questions… What’s the anticipated life of the new tape?”
Doug said, “At at least two years. I can’t get anybody to commit to anything greater than two years because that’s the standard. That’s according to the Pressure Sensitive Tape Association of America.”
Shawn asked, “Is that shelf life or anticipated holding life?”
Doug said, “We don’t want it bouncing around in somebody’s car because there’s no control over the conditions. But, when it’s stored at 70 to 75 degrees and 70% relative to humidity, and applied within 2 years, then it should be fine for the life of the evidence.”
Shawn said, “I think it’s important to distinguish between shelf life and anticipated holding life.”
Doug said, “Just like our zipper weld, if you can get it on the package within 2 years from the date-of- manufacture, then you should be good to go. If you’re storing your packages properly.”
Evidence Storage Experiments
James said, “We did a little experiment here in our office. We took three different groups of like-evidence and we applied the tape to each item. Each one of those items has gone in different temperature-controlled environments. Refrigerator, freezer, super hot climate outside in Connex containers, and also in general temperature-controlled rooms too. So we’re, we’re kind of doing a little beta testing for Doug and hoping to see what that looks like in six months, a year, two years. We’ll be able to see if the adhesion is still there and to make sure that the seals are still intact.”
Shawn said, “Doug got another question… I’m with a small college. Do you have small bundles or starter kits for agencies that could help them with their packaging needs?”
Doug said, “In terms of general evidence packaging? Yes. We’ve got basic evidence packaging kits with several bag sizes, and plastic bags, rolls of tubing. We put some evidence tape in there. Several varieties of that are available.”
Shawn said, “We’ve got questions rolling in. That’s great! I hope we get to ’em all. The question is, Do your blood kits have a shelf life?”
Doug said, “Yes. I do believe that they do. They’re all lot-controlled. Those have at least a one-year shelf life. I don’t get involved in all those details, but I think that’s a lot-controlled item and we have to inventory, control, and rotate our inventories.”
Shawn changed gears and said, “One of the things that hit me late in life was biohazard labels. Our agency used biohazard labels. They were basically printed on paper with Lord knows what kind of adhesive. I would cuss out officers for not putting biohazard stickers on packages. But, then I realized that they might have put biohazard stickers on these packages, but they had probably fallen off. We literally had the floor littered with them. So, do your biohazard stickers have permanent adhesive and a non-paper substrate?”
Doug said, “Yes. With our biohazard labels, we buy ones that are already fluorescent-tinted. Then we put the biohazard insignia on them. Or, a lot of times, the department name, plus ‘BioHazzard.’ You need to buy carefully, because you may be buying somebody’s old stock, which is cheaper, but they don’t tell you anything about how old it is or the condition they have been stored in.”
Shawn said, “Cool. Last question… Do you have any recommendations for Faraday cages or shelf storage? Y’all have a couple of devices, right James?”
James said, “As far as the actual storage device, we have units that are called Blocks Lockers. There have heavy-duty Faraday bags inside of those lockers that actually have a series of different attachments; different charging cables. You have the Lightning cord for the iPhone and then all the USB-C for some of the other phones as well. So, start with that.
I think the shelving modules – for seven storage bays – are around $5,000, though. So they’re not cheap, but they provide security for the items in the Faraday bags. They keep devices continually charged while they’re in custody. That’s important for the computer forensic guys to be able to break into those phones.”
Shawn said, “I’d say three things related to Faraday cages or Faraday bags: One, I learned the hard way. There are two types of Faraday products out there, and if you’re not careful, you’re going to get the wrong type.
I mean, Faraday was a science man from a billion years ago. Who knows about the history? But trust me, he was smart and he dealt with radio waves. But, there are two types of Faraday packages. One is designed as an antistatic package. If you put somthing inside that package, it won’t be affected by a static charge from the material or from a user. We don’t care about that one.
The other Faraday bag that we DO care about in this industry is not so much static. What we care about are Faraday cages that have radio-blocking bags. You can actually buy Faraday bags from a lot of different vendors, but not the kind that you might think they are. So, make sure that you’re buying the right kind of Faraday packaging.
I’ve heard a lot of people say, If you wrap it in tinfoil, like 12 different times, that’s the same thing as a Faraday cage. Unless I had seen some scientific, validated testing that guarantees that that’s going to truncate radio interference, I would hesitate to recommend that.
You have to think about the intended life of a Faraday bag. Typically, once you’ve extracted the data on a device, you no longer need to protect that in a Faraday cage. I mean, Faraday storage is expensive, prohibitively expensive. If you can afford it, God bless you. Buy all the Faraday cages that you can.
But most agencies are struggling with resources, so be very specific about what you put in Faraday storage and how long you keep items there, because you could probably deal with a lot of those things using cheaper, alternate packaging.”
James added, “That’s a good point, Shawn. It’s usually just on the intake side. When that phone has had a search warrant applied to it, the phone then goes to the forensic guys, and they data dump it. Once the phone’s dumped, usually you don’t need to store it in a Faraday bag anymore.”
Shawn said, “Last question today… Do your biohazard or fentanyl stickers stick to Kraft packaging? A person in the audience said that their biohazard stickers do not stick to Kraft.”
Doug said, “We haven’t heard any problems. If they want to try our biohazard stickers…”
Shawn said, “I think she might be dealing with stickers like the ones I bought erroneously. They’re crap. They don’t stick. Well, thank you, Doug, for being here. Thanks for tuning in everyone. These are fun conversations for me. I hope they’re useful to you as the listener.
If not, next week or next month, or next time on The Evidence Show will be completely different. It will be a watershed of groundbreaking information. You will cry. You will laugh. Actually… I don’t know what we’re doing next month. But, we’ll figure it out.
Thanks, guys. I appreciate it, James. Thank you, Doug. We’ll see you next time.”
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