Kingston Police chief’s report gives glimpse into how evidence is stored

The chief’s report states that “as per General Orders,” any property found or seized by employees of the Kingston Police, such as these drugs, weapons, cellphones, clothing, accessories, and cash must be properly stored by the Property and Stores office through a detailed intake and organization process. Image via Kingston Police.

In advance of the May 16, 2024 meeting of the Kingston Police Services Board, Chief of Police Scott Fraser published his annual report on the annual property/evidence audit.

The report notes that the purpose of this audit is to examine the collection, preservation, and control of evidence and property by the Kingston Police to ensure compliance with all legislative, regulatory, internal and board requirements. The scope of this audit, as reported, included all categories of property stored or retained by the Kingston Police Property and Stores Unit and sought to ensure compliance with the Police Services Act, the Adequacy Standards Regulation, and Kingston Police General Orders.

According to the method section in the report, all property currently stored and controlled by Kingston Police Property and Stores Unit including general storage, money and jewelry, firearms, biological exhibits, reference material, cold case/major case management files, large items, controlled drugs and substances, bicycles, and flammable/explosive materials, were subjected to review and confirmation of compliance with the Police Services Act. Further items were physically examined to ensure the security and adequacy of storage locations.

The report notes that the Kingston Police occupy a two-story facility located at 705 Division Street in Kingston. The Property and Stores office and main storage area are located on the main floor of the building. It is staffed by two full-time civilian employees and supervised by a full-time sergeant.

According to the chief, the unit has an office and general storage areas on the main floor of the building with additional storage areas on the basement level. The general storage area has five rows of shelving with plastic bins to store small- to medium-sized property. These bins can be sealed with plastic tags bearing serial numbers to further ensure the continuity of major cases. 

Housed within the general storage area are two smaller independently secured rooms, the report notes, one for firearms and the other for money and jewelry. The doors to both of these rooms remain locked and are under recorded video surveillance. Additionally, cameras have been installed inside the money/jewelry room and the gun room. 

The general storage area also stores biological exhibits in a fridge or one of three freezers. The freezers are monitored for temperature control. The report provides that the fridge was acquired after the 2016 audit to comply with the instruction of the Centre for Forensic Sciences (CFS) that specimens must be stored ‘unfrozen’ for the first 30 days of submission and then moved to frozen storage.

The report also states that in the south lot adjacent to the loading bay doors there is an unheated building which is used to store flammable and hazardous items such as gasoline cans, gunpowder, or paints.

There are additional storage areas in the basement of 705 Division for large articles, cold case/major case files, bicycles, and controlled drugs and substances). The report also notes that large items for auction are held at 717 Division Street.

Chief Fraser’s report states that “as per General Orders,” any property found or seized by employees of the Kingston Police has a property tag affixed to it and is then submitted to the Property and Stores office through an intake process. There are secure intake lockers located just outside of the main property office, as well as a large intake room located in the basement. Both areas are under recorded video surveillance.

According to the chief, the property personnel check the intake areas daily (Monday to Friday). When a property is removed from the intake areas, it is added to a computer software program known as RMS (Records Management System) and assigned a barcode sticker based on information that appears on the affixed property tag. The RMS entry and barcode data describe the property and where it is stored.  The chief notes that storage information can be as general as a room, or as specific as a shelf and bin. Property and related documentation were sampled to ensure that proper continuity procedures were followed and that property could be easily located and accounted for. 

Property that requires drying or forensic analysis is also tagged, but it is submitted directly to the Forensic Identification Unit. The officers in that unit maintain the integrity of the property until it is ready to be submitted to the property office.

The name and badge number of the officer who submitted the property is on the property tag; that officer is responsible for the final disposition of the property. The report explains that this is applied by the property personnel when items are added to RMS. A “disposition review date” is also assigned to the items. At the review date, property personnel send a disposition review to the officer’s workflow in RMS. The officer then provides the property personnel instructions on whether they should hold, return, file as a reference, or destroy the item. That officer can also request an extension on the disposition review by providing a valid reason.

In conclusion, the chief summarized the audit by saying that “all property, save one exhibit, collected, preserved, and controlled by the Property Stores Unit was done so in accordance with Kingston Police policies, and complied with the rules and regulations of the Board and the Community Safety and Policing Act.”

 He found the storage of the property “organized and accurate,” describing the staff assigned to this unit as “knowledgeable and efficient.”

“Year over year, there have been significant improvements in security and efficiency,” Chief Fraser concluded. “Based on observations of the Property Unit staff, along with a noted commitment from the officers seizing and submitting property, there is every reason to believe that this trend will continue.”

Kingstonist has submitted a request for more information pertaining to the audit and will provide an update if more information becomes available.

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