Privatizing long-term evidence storage for law enforcement is a cost-effective, practical option for many agencies. However, the practice of safeguarding, handling, and storing criminal case evidence is governed by federal and state law, rules of evidence, and even the fundamentals of science in some cases. All these regulations must be strictly adhered to. This piece focuses on accountability and adherence to those regulations by private providers.


Accountability in all of its operations is vital for a private company providing long-term evidence storage for law enforcement. Accountability builds and maintains the trust required for law enforcement to hand over a portion of the job they’ve been doing for years to the private sector. Within it, they entrust a company with irreplaceable items that must be maintained, sometimes for years, for potential use in future criminal court cases. Accountability is a process. The company promises to provide its services efficiently, effectively, and lawfully, and the client agency, and sometimes others, ensure they do. 


The laws and regulatory standards of evidence storage can be complex. Private providers are often staffed by former law enforcement personnel considered to be experts in the field of evidence management. And many of these experts have worked at their companies since their inception. They have years of experience interpreting and working with all compliance standards and have “written the book” of procedures and compliance for their companies. 


Maintaining and proving an unbroken chain of custody record for each item of evidence is imperative for law enforcement and private providers alike. Providers know this and follow established procedures that document the receiving, handling, and storage placement of any piece of evidence in their care. Advanced tracking systems are utilized in the process, and the precise location of a given item of evidence is available at any time. When an item is retrieved, the process continues, maintaining an unbroken chain of custody record for the storage lifetime of that particular item.


Providing a secure and well-monitored facility should not be overlooked in the accountability process. Private providers design facilities with modern access control, video surveillance, multiple alarm systems, vaults, and armories to keep the evidence safe and untampered with. Regularly scheduled security assessments and internal audits ensure the highest level of security is maintained at all times.


Law enforcement should expect transparency from a private provider. A professional company will always maintain open lines of communication with law enforcement. One way they do this is by regular reporting to their client agencies. Reports can include:

  • Access records
  • The status of an agency’s evidence on hand
  • Any storage condition anomalies
  • Unusual occurrences at the facility, such as a power outage

Reports of this type should include the anomalies or unusual occurrences duration and the action taken, to address it. Transparency builds trust, the company’s reputation, and is another part of the accountability process.


Private providers often have third-party organizations complete thorough audits on their facilities, operations, level of security, chain of custody documentation, and regulations compliance. These audits are conducted to show proof that they are utilizing the industry’s best practices. They also serve as a practical examination of their operations to help them identify areas where they could operate more efficiently. Depending on the type of audit and organization conducting it, the company may receive an official certification indicating its operations and regulatory compliance meet or exceed industry standards.


Private providers employ former law enforcement evidence management experts and are well-versed in all the aspects involved in providing long-term evidence storage services to the public sector. They realize that they must be and will be – held accountable for their operations, whether it be by their client agencies or the external audit process. Companies hold themselves accountable by conducting security assessments and internal audits of their operations. By maintaining open lines of communication with their client agencies, private providers bolster their accountability and demonstrate their services comply with all the regulations, laws, and standards that govern the long-term evidence storage industry.


Fortress Plus Solutions provides safe, secure storage, handling, and transportation of evidence and property requiring long-term and special storage conditions. In addition, we offer evidence-room audits to help law enforcement maintain accurate and up-to-date evidence-room inventory records. And in our blog, we post informative articles about privatized long-term storage. To learn more about our services, click here.