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November 26, 2010 > Managing evidence who does it?

Managing evidence who does it?

By Meenu Gupta

Photos Courtesy of Milpitas PD

Milpitas Property and Evidence Unit personnel are responsible for holding evidence and safekeeping property for the Milpitas Police Department. Evidence is checked out, sent to the lab, to court, inspected, disposed of or released. All of this requires a system of management capable of maintaining strict control and enforcing rules and regulations that can often change.

Milpitas Property Clerk, Deborah Souza consistently keeps current with techniques regarding evidence collection, booking and technology. Souza has become known as one of the most knowledgeable Property and Evidence professionals within California. In recognition of her expertise, the California Association for Property and Evidence (C.A.P.E.) recently awarded her the prestigious "2010 State Property Officer of the Year" award. C.A.P.E. was formed in order to promote professionalism in property and evidence gathering, processing, and retention. The non-profit organization is comprised of over 400 current law enforcement professionals throughout California involved in the daily management of property and evidence of their respective law enforcement agencies.

The honor of Property Officer of the Year is given to an individual who has excelled in multiple areas: training, teaching, longevity and service in the field of Property and Evidence. Souza, who has been the Milpitas Property Clerk and a member of C.A.P.E. since 1990 and with the Milpitas Department since 1987, was chosen from a highly qualified group of extremely competent individuals. Careful and thorough attention to detail is critical when handling evidence; for the protection of Milpitas citizens and successful efforts of department officers.

"We maintain all items that are collected as evidence in criminal cases, items that are found by the City of Milpitas or recovered for safekeeping. For instance, if someone is in a car accident and goes to the hospital, we might hold their purse for safekeeping. We try to get the property to the right people" said Souza. "Our main objective is to return property back to the rightful owner. We also determine what needs to go to the crime lab for testing and carry it back and forth."

When asked about disposal of items that cannot be returned, she says, "When I am unable to determine ownership or the items are otherwise unclaimed, I send them to PropertyRoom.com."

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