FIREARMS

 

Firearm Types Impounding Officer procedure Evidence Officer procedure Measuring Disposal

 

Many crimes of violence involve the use of firearms; their value as evidence can be as unique as a fingerprint. The underlying premise of firearm examinations is that marks or impressions result when two objects make contact with each other. These resulting impressions are characteristic of the “tool”, which is usually the harder of the two objects. A bullet, which is composed of relatively soft metals, travels through the harder barrel of a firearm causing the barrel to leave markings on the bullet. These markings are unique and can often be associated with a specific firearm. The same is true for markings left on cartridges and cartridge cases from the firearm or its components.

 

All drugs, guns and money will be given special consideration for release from the Evidence Room for court appearances.  Subpoenas must be presented to the evidence officer upon request of any drugs, guns, or money to be checked out for a court appearance.  These items will not be released without a valid subpoena or other valid investigative purpose.  Evidence officer's will copy the information provided and attach it to the evidence report for documentation.

 

Firearm examiners conduct the following types of examinations:

 

National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN)

In the past, firearms examiners were greatly limited in their ability to associate fired bullets and cartridge cases from separate incidents unless an investigative lead was developed to warrant a comparison of the evidence. With NIBIN, the laboratory can provide leads to investigators that may not have been available or known in the past.

 

NIBIN is a system that captures and compares images of fired bullets and cartridge cases. These images are searched against a database. When similarities are observed, the evidence is referred to a firearms examiner for a comparison to confirm the positive association between the NIBIN images.

 

The primary concerns when packaging firearms are safety and the preservation of the evidence including blood, trace evidence, and latent prints that may be present.

 

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AIDS has a short life span when exposed to air.  However, HEPATITIS can live for years in the open air.  Hepatitis contaminated evidence has been frozen and thawed years later.  The virus was shown to still be alive.

 

DO NOT TAKE CHANCES.  ALWAYS USE GLOVES AND WHEN POSSIBLE, FACE PROTECTION.

 

IMPOUNDING OFFICER CONSIDERATIONS AND PROCEDURES

  1. Minimize handling because it is possible to recover latent prints and other valuable evidence from firearms and ammunition.   DO NOT insert anything into the barrel of a firearm Gun barrels take in blood particles after being fired at close range (Blow Back).  Inserting items into the inside of the barrel can compromise valuable evidence.

  2. Document the configuration of the weapon. 

  3. Unload per Department Executive Directive G11-3.  Remove the magazine or block open the cylinder.  Put the safety on.  Place the ammunition in a separate package, or leave with a responsible person. 

  4. Document the changes made to the weapon in order to have rendered it safe.

  5. Make ammunition a separate item from the gun.  Indicate if ammunition was seized from the gun.

  6. REVOLVERS ONLY:  Absent special circumstances, recovered firearms and ammunition components should not be physically marked in any manner (see exception listed below). Label the packaging instead.

  7. REVOLVERS ONLY:  Note the position on the cylinder on both sides using the top strap as an indicator.  Then open the cylinder of the revolver and note the position of fired and unfired cartridges in the cylinder. This allows the position of the cylinder, as recovered, .to be determined after the cylinder is opened.

  8. Do not package the weapon unless it is to be fingerprinted, or may contain fiber material, or exposed to biohazard material.

  9. Any evidence with possible blood or body fluids should be air-dried, then packaged in paper bags, envelopes, or cardboard boxes labeled with a “BIOHAZARD” label.

  10. Individually package shell casings in plastic bags or paper envelopes to prevent alteration or obliteration of microscopic markings.

  11. Recover any unused ammunition of the same brand and type for laboratory examinations

  12. Submit only firearms seized as evidence, lost or stolen.  Do not submit firearms to Property Evidence for purposes of ‘safekeeping’, other than as an absolute last resort.  Find a responsible person in the community to take custody of these firearms. 

  13. Complete an evidence tag and attach it to the gun with a twist-on-tag.

  14. Complete the property-evidence report

  15. List all serial numbers, make and model on the property-evidence report.

  16. Complete the Forensics Service Request.  Place the blue and yellow copies into the basket in the Evidence Processing Room.

  17. Place the weapon into an evidence locker.  Note the location on the property-evidence report.

  18. Place the yellow and green copy of the property-evidence report in the property-evidence basket in the evidence processing room, with the LEDS/NCIC Hard copy attached.

    NOTE:  Whenever appropriate, ask the DA in charge of the case to request a destruction order or conversion or for the weapon, (whichever applies).

 

 

SUBMISSION OF A LOADED FIREARM

If it is necessary to submit a loaded firearm due to the circumstances of an investigation, the following will apply:

  1. Place the tagged weapon into an evidence locker.

  2. Attach a warning to the evidence report stating the locker contains a loaded firearm.  Also note this on the evidence report itself.

  3. Attach a copy of the incident report to the property evidence report.

  4. A Criminalist, with the assistance of a firearms instructor (if necessary) will remove the firearm from the locker and perform the necessary processing.

EVIDENCE OFFICER PROCEDURES

STORAGE

  1. Ensure firearm has been packaged correctly and rendered safe; refer to the example board in the evidence processing areas.  DO NOT open any bags or boxes that contain a firearm as evidence used in a crime or death investigation.

  2. Place the barcode on the twist tag on the firearm and the corresponding barcode on the property receipt.

  3. If information is available, an ATF&E trace will be done on all firearms.

  4. Place all long guns in the designated area within the secured room.  All handguns are to be placed into a gun box and placed on the designated shelf in the secured room.

  5. Using the barcode reader, scan the location of the shelf, and then scan the barcode that is affixed to the firearm.

  6. When firearms are taken to court, ensure a gun lock is placed on the firearm.  The firearm then can be placed into a gun case for transport to the courthouse.

  7. When transporting a loaded firearm to the state crime lab, be sure the state crime lab request form and the packaging  states “LOADED FIREARM”.

DISPOSAL

Upon authorization or disposition of the case:

  1. Weapons identified in a destruction order will be destroyed within six months of the court order.

  2. Weapons will be converted to department use if so identified on a court order.

  1. Barcode the firearm as assignee ‘WSCO’ and location as ‘Owner’.

  2. Complete the Conversion Form.  Attach a copy of the court order to the to the Conversion Form that is maintained in Property-Evidence.  Attach a copy of the order to the property-evidence report and place them in the permanent file.

  3. The person receiving the weapon is responsible to complete any appropriate paperwork the courts may require.  Property-Evidence will no longer be responsible to track the weapon.

  4. When the weapon is no longer of the appropriate use to the department, it will be returned to Property-Evidence.  Follow 8 a and c (below).

  1. When considering release of a firearm to an owner, Fax a background form to OSP Firearm's Unit (503) 370-8584.  They will notify you if the owner has any felony convictions, domestic violence, restraining orders or any other restrictions that prohibit the owner from legally possessing the firearm.  This only applies to firearms not ordered destroyed by the courts.

  2. Attach a copy of the OSP Firearm's Unit response to the property evidence report.

  3. On firearms not specified to be destroyed by a court order, send a certified 30-day letter to the owner.  If the owner was determined to not be able to legally possess the firearm then indicate in the letter that a 3rd party must take possession of the firearm.

  4. If the weapon was seized for a mental hold or attempted suicide, contact the departments Mental Health Liaison Officer.  If there is a mental probation, indicate in the letter that a third party must take possession of the firearm.

  5. Ammunition may be returned, however a separate appointment must be made on a different day then the release of a firearm (if applicable).

  6. Have the person sign the ‘Declaration on Receipt of Firearms.'

  7. If the owner does not retrieve the gun with the time period given in the letter, or is unknown or not able to be contacted, donate the weapon to a bona fide and/or historical society or museum, convert to department use or destroy the firearm.  Document all efforts that were made in contacting an owner.

  1. If the firearm is of museum quality, contact the evidence supervisor regarding donating the firearm.  The supervisor or a superior in his/her chain of command will provide written authorization that the firearm be donated to a specific institution.  Attach the authorization to the property-evidence report and place them into the permanent file.

  2. If the firearm is to be converted, do so after the appropriate paperwork has been acquired by the person receiving the firearm.  See step 2, a through d.

  3. If the weapon does not qualify above, have it destroyed.

  1. Barcode the firearm to the location “WD” and note the same location on the back of the property-evidence receipt in the final disposition box. Complete the ‘Weapons Destruction Form.'

  2. Prior to taking the firearm to be destroyed the evidence officer will photograph the firearm with the case number showing.  Place the digital CD in the weapons destruction photo file.

  3. Grips, stocks and scopes will then be removed.  Grips, stocks and scopes will be disposed of.  Place the barrels in a box.

  4. Complete the Pre-Shipment Notification form two weeks in advance and fax to: Marion County Waste Management (503) 393-9714 to schedule an appointment time.

  5. Contact the Professional Standards Unit to schedule their presence on the transportation day.

  6. Call the Marian County Waste Management one day prior to confirm appointment date and time (503) 393-9724.

  7. On the day the drugs are to be transported for destruction, run a report on "Dest Box" prior to scanning any drug items to be destroyed.  Then barcode each drug item to the location of “destroyed.”  Then run the report for "Dest Box" once again to ensure all items have been accounted for.

  8. Complete the Non-Hazardous Certification form.

  9. Transport the drugs (and firearms if applicable) to Marion County Waste Management, 4850 Brooklake Road N.E., Brooks, Oregon.  Two evidence officers and a person designated by the Professional Standards Unit must be in attendance and witness the destruction.

  10. The following forms and reports must be brought along;
    Pre-Shipment Notification.
    Non-Hazardous Certification.
    Report - "Dest Box."
    Report - "WD."

  11. All persons who are in attendance and witness the destruction must date and initial the Narcotics Destruction Form.  Place the original form in the weapons destruction file in the Property-Evidence office.  Place copies in each applicable case file in records.

 

Revised  4/18/07