Police Seizures - Evidence & Forfeitures
The evidence room averages around 18,000 items of evidence at any one time, with more items being continuously added.
Officers seize items of evidence in the field, bring them to the station, bag, tag, identify, photograph, fingerprint and/or chemically test all of them. Since moving to the new police facility there is an expanded evidence processing area available for the officer’s use. The evidence is placed into a pass-through storage locker, all of which are individually keyed for security. The keys are then dropped into a bank type depository drop and end up in the secure evidence room.
During the next business day, the technician removes the items from the lockers through doors on the inside of the evidence room, enters the data about them into the computerized evidence records and places them in a specified location within the evidence room. Evidence stays secured there unless sent to the State or FBI crime labs for analysis, needed for court, or disposed of by returning it to the owner or destroying it. In 2000, a new State law was passed that required Police Departments to keep physical evidence on certain cases (primarily homicides) virtually forever.
Pursuant to the law, Officers may seize certain property used by suspects where probable cause indicates that they are drug and narcotics violators. This seizure process is strictly controlled in Illinois and all seizures must be through a multi-step and multi-agency review before property rights are terminated and the property forfeited. Lt. Surles reviews the Officer's decision and may overrule it. If he agrees, he passes it on to the State's Attorney's Office, where the report is reviewed. He also forwards a copy to the Illinois State Police where it is reviewed and filed. The suspect has a right to a hearing before a judge, as well as all appeal rights. Once those steps are completed, those items seized are forfeited to the Illinois State Police. The Urbana Police Department is then reimbursed 65% of the value of that property forfeited to the State Police.