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San Diego Police Need To Improve Evidence Procedures

| Jun 2, 2015 | Firm News |

I was reading a recent article where a grand jury claimed the SDPD evidence procedures fall short of standards.  Evidence is probably one of the defense bar issues in cases.  In most cases, (especially DUIs) the production of evidence is not presented in full but trickles in.  It is a tough situation because at the same time the court and prosecution want the case to resolve but defense has not completed the examination of the evidence because it is trickling in.  Sometimes the evidence comes in so late the proseuction no longer is making the early case offer even through no fault of the client or defense.  It is a tough situation.

This is one reason our firm likes to be as proactive as possible.  In a San Diego DUI we will get as much evidence through the APS/DMV hearing as possible because it will lower the amount of items needed in the court case. It is good to see there is a chance for changes.  It is just about fairness and having an examination of the facts of a case.

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The San Diego Police Department’s evidence- and property-handling procedures fall short of standards widely maintained by other area law enforcement facilities, according to a report released Monday by the 2014-15 county grand jury.

In its review, the panel also decried a purported lack of communication among the district attorney, city attorney and the SDPD concerning the retention or disposal of evidence. The deficiency at times causes items to be retained after cases are closed, resulting in a need for extra storage space and leading to delays in returning property to its rightful owners.

SDPD officials responded to the findings by asserting that they had made “substantial improvements” in their property and evidence policies over the past year. Those changes included “new management, including but not limited to a more thorough operations manual, written procedures, training confirmations and quality-control inspections,” according to the department.

The jury’s probe was prompted by published reports concerning the manner in which SDPD personnel maintain evidence in their custody, how it was accounted for and whether property was promptly returned or disposed of when no longer needed, according to county officials.

The thrust of the investigation was to determine if the department made use of procedures to properly handle and store evidence needed for trials and to dispose of it when appropriate.

To improve the situation, the district attorney and San Diego city attorney should work with the police department to develop better communication as to when evidence is no longer needed, the grand jury recommended.

The panel also advised that the SDPD perform a management review based on Peace Officers Standards and Training guidelines to identify weaknesses in property and evidence procedures and to implement corrective action.

Among other problems the grand jury found with the SDPD’s so called “Property and Evidence Room” – actually nine facilities housed in the department’s downtown headquarters, in part of a converted parking garage and in a leased private warehouse – were:

  • an absence of surveillance cameras, a security measure recommended by the POST guide and used by other local police agencies
  • “disarray” in the department’s weapon-storage area
  • a lack of protocols to govern when files are to be reviewed for disposal
  • no logbook documenting access to safes
  • no annual audit, a security measure also recommended by the POST manual.

If you are charged with a San Diego DUI or other Criminal offense, you need to call our firm immediately. We are available to take action on your case today. Please email or call us at 858-751-4384 or email me at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation. The key is to be proactive.

The full article can be found here.

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