Proper Handling of Recovered Evidence
DIDM Memorandum

September 29, 2011


TO : All RDs and D, NOSUs
SUBJECT : Proper Handling of Recovered Evidence

1. References:

a. PNP Standard Operating Procedure Number ODIDM-2011-008, dated April 7, 2011, Subject: Conduct of Crime Scene Investigation; HcDSaT

b. Philippine National Police Manual, PNPM-DIDM-DS-9-2, Subject: Field Manual on Investigation of Crimes of Violence and Other Crimes (2011), and;

c. Memorandum to all RDs and D, NOSUs, dated February 11, 2011, Subject: Mandatory Examination of All Firearms, Shells and Slugs Recovered During Police Operations.

2. On September 23, 2011, a concerned citizen called the attention of this Directorate on an ongoing interview on primetime television of the Chief of Police of Mexico (Pampanga) MPS regarding a shooting incident in SM City, Bgy. Lagundi, Mexico, Pampanga. The COP was seen on nationwide television holding a vital piece of evidence, a caliber .22 handgun, which was not placed inside an Evidence Bag and without him wearing gloves in order to protect what other pieces of evidence, like latent print, that can be lifted from the firearm.

3. Assuming that latent prints were already lifted from the firearm, to display a piece of evidence to the members of the media without observing standing protocols on the handling of evidence only illustrates unprofessional conduct and gross disregard of basic investigative procedures, which is tantamount to violations of the provisions of DIDM policies, SOPs, and directives. Public ridicule and criticism to the entire organization is the worst consequence of this misconduct.

4. Henceforth, this Directorate reiterates the strict observance and adherence to the relevant provisions of the Philippine National Police Manual PNPM-DIDM-DS-9-2 to prevent similar incidents in the future. Among others, the Manual provides that "the crime scene processing and the collection, handling, and transportation of evidence shall primarily be conducted by the SOCO specialists of the PNP Crime Laboratory. However, in some instances, the First Responder or the Investigator-on-Case may have to collect evidence that might otherwise be destroyed or contaminated if uncollected". This underscores the importance of an authorized police personnel to physically handle evidence, and not just by anybody, even a Chief of Police, if only to establish the chain of custody and integrity of the piece of evidence. HScaCT

5. "The collection of evidence should be properly handled and documented. The use of protective gloves or any object is strictly necessary with the purpose for preserving Biological Materials especially in object containing finger- or latent-prints that need to be protected from contamination and destruction. The collected pieces of evidence shall be submitted to the local Crime Laboratory Office like the case of a firearm that needs to be tested for gunpowder residue, macro-etching examination, and ballistic test." This basic investigative procedure was grossly violated by the COP of Mexico MPS. The crime was committed on September 20, 2011 and three (3) days thereafter, the firearm used in the murder of a 16 year old student was in the physical possession of the COP, and not in the custody of the PNPCL unit that has jurisdiction in the area.

6. On February 11, 2011, this Directorate issued a Memorandum on the Mandatory Examination of All Firearms, Shells and Slugs Recovered During Police Operations. It specifically provides that "all firearms, cartridges, and slugs seized, captured, or recovered during checkpoints or pursuit operations or in any other police operations, including those seized during the service of warrants and, more importantly, those recovered from crime scenes shall immediately be submitted to the local Crime Laboratory Office (CLO) which shall in turn process it for capturing and cross-matching by the IBIS."

7. To illustrate the importance of the proper handling of evidence, the Memorandum further stipulated that "the Field Investigator or Investigator-on-Case (IOC) shall henceforth no longer submit firearms, cartridges, and/or slugs directly to the Prosecutor or the Court, but shall instead submit the photo of the firearm and the receipt issued by the local CLO for the said firearms, cartridges, and/or slugs. Should the prosecutor eventually require the physical submission of the firearms, the Investigator-on-Case shall manifest with the Prosecutor or Court that a subpoena be issued for the CLO which issued the receipt to present" the said pieces of evidence. "It is also imperative that the chain of custody be strictly observed and documented and, therefore, as much as practicable, it shall be the Investigator-on-Case who shall personally submit the recovered firearms, cartridges, and/or slugs to the CLO."

8. For widest dissemination and strict compliance. SDTIaE

Police Chief Superintendent