Traditionally, law enforcement agencies have stored evidence within in-house facilities. Now, they have an option for their long-term evidence storage. The private sector has stepped up and provided long-term evidence storage solutions for police agencies, and this option has proven quite valuable and effective.

Many standards must be adhered to in the proper preservation of evidence. Any deviations may result in the evidence being ruled inadmissible in court. And these standards apply to whoever has it in their control.

It’s important to note that storage and preservation go hand-in-hand. Law enforcement must store evidence in varying, particular environments to preserve them properly. 

This piece compares the private and public sectors’ approaches to preserving specific types of evidence.

Private Sector vs. Public Agencies 

If appropriate for the type of evidence, private companies will wrap and label individual items and use RFID or other applied technology to track evidence within their facilities. These systems pinpoint the item’s location, maintaining accurate chain of custody documentation and adding another layer of protection for the items in the care. Their warehouse-type facilities are ready to scale to their client’s needs and have temperature and humidity-controlled zones that preserve evidence in the proper environment.

Many, if not most, of today’s police evidence rooms are struggling with a lack of evidence storage space. Few have the specialized infrastructure needed to store all that evidence in compliance with modern best practices, especially for the long term. 

1. Firearms and Ballistic Evidence

Most private companies have separate, secure, monitored, and maintained armories within their facilities to store firearms and other ballistic evidence. This provides an extra layer of security and ensures firearm evidence remains appropriately preserved. Most public agencies lack the facilities to keep all of their firearms stored in a separate, secure space within their evidence rooms. 

2. Documents

Paper documents are sensitive in nature and can quickly degrade over time. Proper preservation involves correct initial packaging, repackaging after examination, and storage in temperature and humidity-controlled spaces. Aging evidence rooms lack the space and infrastructure to store documents suitably long-term, risking degradation. Private providers have designed their facilities to accommodate all types of evidence and excel in preserving items that require special handling and storage.

3. Biological Evidence

DNA samples, blood-stained items, and other biological items require special handling, preservation techniques, and storage conditions. While a local evidence room’s personnel are typically up to most tasks, long-term storage could be more problematic. Unless they work in an agency with a brand-new facility, the shortage of space and the design of their evidence room hinder their ability to abide by all of the standards of evidence management. The private sector provides these services as a matter of routine. They have the facilities and follow specific procedures to store biological evidence using today’s best practices.

4. Large or Odd-Shaped Evidence

Evidence only sometimes comes in sizes and shapes that easily fit on a shelf. The truth is, almost anything you can imagine can become physical evidence used in a crime, and preservation and long-term storage may be required. When comparing the space between the local evidence room and the private company’s facility, there is no comparison. The private facility is enormous in comparison and can easily store large or odd-shaped evidence.

5. Vehicles

Most agencies rely on their local impound lot to store vehicles. These lots are fenced and locked, and in larger communities, they may even be staffed round-the-clock. But for most of these impound lots, the vehicles are stored outside, in a remote location, at the mercy of the weather, and sitting behind chain-link fences offering minimal protection. These conditions are not conducive to vehicle preservation. 

Private companies offer a much better option. They have the facilities to store and preserve vehicles for the long haul. Offering both interior and exterior storage options, what separates them from the local impound lot is their level of preservation expertise and security. Private providers often wrap vehicles to properly preserve them – whether stored inside or outside their facilities. Outside storage is accomplished behind solid walls, so their lots are not visible to the public. These outdoor storage areas are access controlled, alarmed, and video monitored 24-7 by on-site staff.


There is a stark difference between the public and private sectors regarding preserving and storing evidence. Most local PD evidence rooms are not large enough to hold the amount of evidence they have on hand. Neither were they designed to properly preserve their inventories, including many types of evidence with varying environmental requirements.

The private sector has provided long-term evidence storage options for many years now. Besides having the space to scale to their client’s needs, private providers have the facilities, infrastructure, and protocols to store evidence by adhering to modern standards. Private providers offer an option to law enforcement, one that ensures each type of evidence is maintained securely, constantly monitored, properly documented, and stored within the needed environment to preserve the evidence long-term. 


Fortress Plus Solutions provides safe, secure, documented transportation, handling, and storage of evidence and property for the long term. If your items require special storage conditions – we provide that. In addition, we offer evidence room audits to help law enforcement maintain best practices and accurate and up-to-date inventory records. In our blog, we post informative articles about privatized long-term storage and the auditing process. To learn more about our services, click here.