In 2004, the Department of Public Safety initialized the use of a barcode system to track and monitor the location of evidence and property. For every item that is taken in by the GP DPS it is given its own barcode number and that barcode is scanned into a specific location. These locations consist of either boxes, filing cabinets, storage bins and so on.
If an item needs to be checked out for some reason it can be tracked to the person or facility that is requesting it. If evidence needs to go to the Oregon State Police Lab for processing it is scanned to that location and likewise evidence requested by the DA’s office is placed in their location until it is returned to the Department’s property room.
The barcode system has streamlined the evidence property process and allows for easy evidence location searches and yearly property room audits. This information is kept in a data base that can be used for a chain of custody record, inventory record, and retention schedule record.
The department currently utilizes one facility to house evidence and found property. The property room at the Justice Building holds all temporary valuables, drugs and weapons that may be returned to their rightful owners. It is also the location that officers place their evidence and property to be logged in and stored by the Property Specialist. It is the short-term storage place for everything from small items such as documents and audio/visual media evidence to backpacks, bikes etc.
The long-term storage of items, large bulky evidence and found property is stored off-site at a secure facility. At both facilities combined there are approximately 40,000+ items retained as evidence and found property. The retention of this evidence, custody of, can be anywhere from 90 days to 30+ years.
Found property is retained for 90 days. If there is owner information with the found property, every attempt is made to locate that person and advise them that their property is stored at the Department. If unclaimed after the 90 days, the items are relinquished to online auction. Currently the department contracts with PropertyRoom to handle this function. Any revenue received from this is placed into the General Fund.
Evidence and property used in the commission of a crime is handled similarly. Misdemeanor conviction evidence / property need only be retained for 90 days. It is 2 years and 35 days for Felony conviction cases and for Homicides, evidence must be held until the defendant is dead or 100 years of age, whichever is first. All Measure 11 cases are reviewed every 2 years by the District Attorney’s office. It is released only with their approval.
For cases that do not have suspect information, or are rejected by the District Attorney’s office, or no charges are filed, evidence needs to be retained from the date of offense as follows:
- Violation - 6 months
- Misdemeanor - 2 years
- Felony - 3 years
- Measure 11 Offenses - 5 years with DA approval
- Homicide/Attempted Homicide - Until DA approval
- Suicides/Unnatural death w/possibility of criminal activity - 3 years
- Civil - 3 years
These retention schedules closely follow the Statute of Limitation guidelines for the State of Oregon.