As the world becomes more digital, many police departments are becoming woefully behind the times. When it comes to managing digital evidence, many are still using outdated software and computers. In fact, many are still putting their evidence on DVDs. Law enforcement agencies and departments are finally starting to come around and are looking for more efficient ways to manage their digital evidence.
Many law enforcement investigations have mountains of evidence so looking for a third party to securely handle it is important. Since data breaches are common, it is vital to look for a management system that has certain criteria. In this article, we will go over what the essentials are to look out for when it comes to finding the right digital evidence management system.
1 – Security and clearance
Security is not just about making sure your evidence is safe from hackers. There is also the fact that physical copies can get corrupted and that there could be compliance issues with storage. Discs can get lost or stolen as well.
To avoid any potential loss of crucial evidence, there should be backups of the backups. This means that there should be a physical copy present at the department with copies in the cloud and on a physical drive somewhere else.
Access should also have a chain of command so there is no risk of somebody erasing something by accident or even acting maliciously. Clearance needs to be tightly controlled to only give access to the right people. Going with a third party for digital evidence management will help to keep only authorized people in the loop.
There should be different roles assigned to certain personnel with access given depending on their role. This means that some will have full access and others will have it be limited. Individual and group access should be able to be modified quickly since situations do change.
2 – Flexibility
Many departments are using on-site applications as a way to control access. To get the most out of the system it makes more sense to have a flexible approach that will streamline the deployment process.
There should be easier ways to upload and access the evidence in a secure way so that it can be used more efficiently. For instance, using a web based system will allow patrol officers to upload evidence in real time from the field as opposed to waiting until they come back to the department and go through a protocol.
It can be especially advantageous if there doesn’t need to be software that needs to be installed on every device since it is web based.
3 – Tracking
For evidence to be useful in court, there needs to be a transparent chain of custody. When looking into management systems it is important to choose the one that gives the most transparency.
A good system will give a record of every person who has accessed the evidence with the date and time stamp.