Primary Marking Systems Inc. developed software that enables law enforcement to electronically track the chain of custody for evidence and chronological documentation of a paper trail to show the seizure, custody, control, transfer, analysis, and disposition of evidence. This high-tech tracking system, aptly named Evidence Tracking With Information Solution Technologies (eTWIST), is a barcode-based software which allows police officers to record and enter evidence data from a crime scene while still in the field and/or on the move.
The easy to use eTWIST technology utilizes Windows Mobile and/or HTLM-based software which can be integrated with a Motorola mobile handheld computing device. Using this system, law enforcement officers can quickly record evidence at the crime scene and generate RFID or bar code labels to identify and code the evidence including the time/date, compass heading, temperature and Geo-location of where the evidence was collected. Everything is stored on the handheld device, and the data can be imported into a computer or database in a matter of seconds.
The eTWIST technology also allows a law enforcement officer to identify multiple victims, suspects, witnesses, evidence and remarks with a photo and GPS location stamp. The information, including the case number, time, date and the officer’s department service number, is uploaded to a database. The barbell-shaped bar code labels can be affixed to the piece of evidence or the evidence container. The labels and text are extremely durable, and completely weather proof. They can also be pre-printed with a precinct or crime unit name, so that the evidence source can be seen at a glance.
Estimates indicate Law enforcement agencies using eTWIST can save 50 man-hours each week, and many police departments throughout theU.S.have been utilizing this high-tech tracking system with outstanding results. TheMaplewoodand Creve Coeur Police Departments, serving suburbs ofSt. Louis, as well as a law enforcement agency in Cold Spring, Kentuckyare just a few examples. eTWIST is also part of the teaching curriculum of the DHS sponsored NCBRT (National Center for Bio-Medical Research and Training at Louisiana State University’s Counter-Terrorism School to train law enforcement officers when collecting evidence in hazardous environments.
eTWIST at approximately $7,000 easily fits into even the small agency budgets. State and local law enforcement agencies are able to apply for federal funding through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program or others to assist with purchasing technology. Given that the average police agency receives about 100 cases per week with 25 of those needing evidence tracking, it takes an average of 2 hours per case (50 hours per week for 25 cases) to input that information into computer systems or to hand-write the reports. Using eTWIST, the return on investment is estimated to take only 5 to 8 weeks.