When exploring the private sector’s solution to your long-term evidence storage problems, there’s much to consider. Private companies employ experienced professionals who utilize the industry’s best practices and have facilities designed specifically for the job. Law enforcement personnel must plan for the transition, taking a deep research dive into their present-day evidence situation and the types and numbers of items on hand, among other factors. Agencies must collaborate with private companies before deciding to go the private route. 


1. Needs and goals assessment: Answer these questions:

A. What’s your evidence situation now – easy to locate/retrieve, appropriately stored?

B. What problems do you have now?

C. What problems do you anticipate in the future?

D. How can you address your present issues?

E. Do you have plans to alleviate future problems?

F. What types of evidence are on hand, and do they require special handling and storage?

G. Of those types, how many pieces of evidence are short-term holds, and how many are stored long-term?

H. What regulations apply to your criminal case evidence? What actions must you take to gain compliance? Are they being adhered to?

I. Do you have the funding to make the transition, or must you present a special budget request?

2. Customize Your Solution:Your needs and goals assessment provides you and the private provider with the information needed to start designing a solution unique to your department and its needs, challenges, and requirements. Private companies have facilities ready to store any type (May vary depending on the company.) of evidence you have on hand in their proper environments, so they can customize their solution to meet your individual storage needs.

3. Chain of Custody: Knowing your department’s personnel will be on the imparting side and that private professionals will be on the acquiring side of the evidence transfer process, don’t overlook the importance or take for granted maintaining an unbroken chain of custody record for each piece of evidence transferred. Private providers will have established procedures carried out by experienced staff members to ensure an unbroken chain of custody is maintained and documented. Due diligence requires you to research the company’s process thoroughly. Discuss it with them so you understand precisely how it will work for routine storage items and how regulatory and special handling requirements might affect the chain of custody.

4. Training: Contracting with a private company to take over some of the in-house work will require training your personnel on the new procedures. Work with the company’s staff to create practical training procedures and documents that mesh with the company’s services so your personnel thoroughly understand the new processes. Practical training prepares your personnel to undertake the latest techniques with confidence. 


1. Cost and Budgeting: Answers to the following questions will help you decide if the privatization of evidence storage will work for your agency:

A. How much will it cost?

B. What do you budget now for evidence storage and management? (Think personnel costs, equipment, training, and facilities maintenance and supplies.)

C. What’s the savings potential of those costs by transferring your long-term evidence to a private, off-site provider?

D. Consider the approximate cost of new construction/remodeling of your evidence-holding facilities. Remember to include the necessary equipment to store items that require special storage conditions. To lawfully comply with the regulations of evidence storage, an updated or new facility will need to be built to comply with those standards – something that many present facilities don’t, at least entirely, provide.

E. Finally, is privatization cost-effective for your agency?

2. Regulatory Compliance:A professional private provider has the expertise to ensure regulatory compliance regarding evidence handling and storage. Still, agencies must investigate the private company’s procedures for the integrity of their criminal case evidence from this perspective.

3. Scalability:Project your agency’s evidence storage needs into the future. What will it be a year from now? Two years? Five years down the road? Will the private provider have the space and special handling facilities for your storage needs in the future? Keep in mind that these providers will also be storing evidence for other law enforcement agencies.

4. Accessibility:Even though your evidence is stored long-term, eventually, it will need to be accessed. In some rare cases, your items may need to be retrieved quickly. Ensure your provider can meet your requirements regarding retrieval and ask about any limitations.

5. Disaster Planning and Recovery:Discuss this issue with the company. Do they have plans in place for disaster mitigation and recovery? This is an important issue. A private company’s ability to “weather the storm,” so to speak, could significantly impact presenting your criminal case evidence in the future. 


Law enforcement agencies must prepare for the transition to a private evidence storage provider. Personnel should know their present situation and its problems and collaborate with the company to develop a customized solution for the agency while strictly following all laws and best practices. Some considerations include cost, scalability, evidence accessibility, and disaster planning.


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.