How to handle firearms, fireworks, explosives, and sharp items in the evidence room?
Like Drugs and Currency, evidence rooms receive various types of firearms, fireworks, explosives, and sharp items every day. In this article, we discuss a list of steps and recommendations on how to handle firearms, fireworks, explosives, and sharp items. Different law enforcement agencies might have different rules and procedures to handle firearms and that’s why it’s important to point out that the following are only recommendations and they are not enforced by law in the United States.
- Unload all weapons and visually inspect them to make sure they are safe to store. Have a second person do the same. Every time, no exceptions.
- Make sure the chamber is open, the clip is removed and the safety is on. The revolver’s cylinder must be open and secured with a nylon cable tie. Many labs prefer that you NOT run a cable tie (or anything else) through the barrel.
- Use special boxes to package firearms, normally there are holes and nylon ties in the box to secure the weapon.
- Bundle and secure ammunition & magazines and count them before storing them in the box. You may prefer to package ammunition and magazines separately from firearms.
- If you need to mark the weapon, use a non-exposed area where it does not devalue the weapon.
- Verify that serial numbers are actually serial numbers, and not common part numbers, and check all serial numbers upon receipt in evidence and again prior to disposal.
- Never store fireworks in the evidence room under any circumstances. They need to be stored in a fireproof storage locker or facility, even if that means “off-site”.
- Photograph fireworks before packaging and contact the Fire Marshal if your procedures require it.
- Dispose of fireworks as soon as possible. Consult with the Fire Marshall or your local fire department for advice or assistance.
- Never store explosives or flammables in the evidence room under any circumstances. Again, if that means storing off-site, so be it.
- Photograph explosives & flammables and contact Fire Marshall to hold or dispose of the items.
- Upload photographs of explosives and flammables into your digital evidence management system with a detailed description of each evidence item.
Handling sharp items/instruments
- Photograph sharp instruments/items and upload their photos with detailed descriptions to the digital evidence management system. Record the overall length of the knife as well as the blade length.
- Secure all sharp items like broken glass and razors inside a cardboard or Styrofoam before packaging.
- Special boxes might be available to package knives with open blades. Use these boxed when available. Tape might be used to secure the blade or knife as well, as long as it doesn’t contaminate any blood or DNA evidence.