7.090 - Photographic Evidence

7.090 - Photographic Evidence

Effective Date: 10/01/2020


This policy applies to all employees in the creation and preservation of photographic evidence.

Employees will store photographic evidence into one of two systems: The Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) or Evidence.com.

Employees trained in the use of the Axon Capture will use this mobile application to create and preserve photographs taken on Department smartphones by employees and upload them into Evidence.com.

This policy also addresses the upload and storage of digital photographic and video evidence obtained from third-party sources.

This policy does not apply to in-car and body-worn video or recorded statements.

See 16.090 In-Car and Body-Worn Video.

See 7.110 Recorded Statements.

1. Employees May Take Evidentiary Photographs

Employees may take photos of individuals involved in an investigation in accordance with Manual Section 6.060 Collection of Information for Law Enforcement Purposes.

2. Employees Will Not Create or Store Photographic Evidence on Non-Department Owned Devices

Use of personal devices to photograph crime scenes or sensitive material is strictly prohibited.

Exception: In case of exigent circumstances, an employee may use a non-department owned device to capture photographic evidence. See 7.090-PRO-4.

Employees are reminded that public disclosure laws may apply to non-department owned devices when utilized for official Department business and correspondence. See Manual Section 12.040 – Department-Owner Computers, Devices and Software.

3. Employees Will Use Axon Capture to Upload Photographs Taken on Department-Issued Smartphones to Evidence.com via Secure Cellular Network or City of Seattle Wi-Fi Connection

4. Photographs Taken on a Department-Issued Device Outside of Axon Capture Application Without a Clear Investigatory Purpose Will Not be Uploaded into DEMS or Evidence.com

5. Employees Will Add the Report Number and Crime Offense Category to All Photographs Uploaded to DEMS or Evidence.com

6. Once Photographs Have Been Uploaded to Evidence.Com or DEMS, Employees May Temporarily Store Working Copies on a Department Computer

Photographic evidence may be temporarily stored on a Department computer to meet an operational need. Once the photographic evidence is no longer needed, the employee must remove the photographic evidence from the Department computer.

7. Employees Will Not Alter Original Photos

When necessary, basic photo enhancements to working copies may be used to enhance a photo’s brightness, clarity, contrast, cropping or rotation. Employees will not enhance original photos.

Original digital photos shall be stored in an unaltered state within Evidence.com or DEMS.

Employees may contact the Photo Unit or Video Unit if image or video processing is required.

Trained personnel, such as latent print examiners, CSI detectives, Video Unit and Photo Lab employees, may assist with intermediate to advanced level image processing. All images processed will be processed in accordance with the processing personnel’s Unit Manual and uploaded into DEMS or Evidence.com.

See 7.090-TSK-2 Image Processing of Photographic Evidence Uploaded to Evidence.com.

8. Employees Will Upload Photographs to Evidence.com or DEMS Prior to Requesting Official Prints

Employee-created photographic evidence must be submitted to Evidence.com or DEMS prior to being printed.

See 7.090-PRO-2 on obtaining an “official” printed photograph.

Exception: The Latent Print Unit may print photographs for comparison value from digital imaging software outside of DEMS.

Exception: Investigators may print photographs to aid in subject identification or to generate investigative leads.

9. The Photographic Services Unit is Responsible for the Restriction, Retention and Disposition of Photographs Submitted to DEMS and Evidence.com

The lead investigator may call or email the Photographic Services Unit providing the report number and a list of employees granted access to restricted digital evidence.

10. Third-Party Photographs Collected During an Investigation May be Uploaded to DEMS

Photographic evidence associated with an SPD investigation and received by third-party sources may be uploaded to DEMS under the appropriate report number.

All original media or devices will be submitted to the Evidence Unit per 7.090-PRO-3.

11. Employees Will Use Department-Supplied Devices and Media Cards to Capture Photographic Evidence

Devices must produce images with at least 10-megapixel resolution for best evidentiary value and be validated and approved by the Forensic Digital Imaging Section.

12. Employees Will Separate Photographs Captured on Media Cards or Devices with More than One Incident

Employees will separate photos captured from each incident with a photographic slate consisting of the report number, employee name, and date/time or the CAD information displayed on the Mobile Terminal Device to separate photographic images from multiple incidents.

13. Employees Will Not Delete Evidentiary Images from a Media Card or Device Prior to Uploading the Images to DEMS or Evidence.com

14. When Using a Department Smartphone to Gather Evidentiary Images, Employees Will Take Photographs with the Axon Capture Mobile Application

Exception: Employees will not capture evidentiary images outside of the Axon Capture application on their Department-issued cell phones unless exigent circumstances prevent Axon Capture application use.

See 7.090-TSK-1 Submitting Photographic Evidence Via AXON Capture on evidence.com

15. Employees Will Only Access and View Photographic Evidence for Official Use Only

Attempts to access and view photographic evidence in DEMS and Evidence.com are automatically logged by the system. Employees should only view photographs for official use and be able to justify their purpose for viewing.  

Employees will refer members of the public who wish to view photographic evidence to file a public disclosure request. 

16. Employees Will Verify Image Uploads into DEMS and Evidence.com

Employees will visually verify the upload process of photographs from Axon Capture into Evidence.com. 

Employees will confirm transfer of photographs into DEMS through the delivery of an automated email message. See 7.090 TSK -4.

See 7.090-TSK-3 Procedures for Handling Photographic Evidence When Axon Capture Fails to Upload Images.

Employees experiencing any technical issues with DEMS or Axon Capture evidentiary uploads will contact the Photographic Services Unit at 684-5756 or spd.photolab@seattle.gov.

17. Employees Will Maintain and Update Their Smartphone with the Most Recent Operating System and Version of Axon Capture

Employees experiencing any technical issues with Department-issued smartphones will contact the Help Desk at 4-HELP or SeattleIT.ServiceDesk@seattle.gov.

18. In Certain Circumstances, Employees Will Use Digital Single-lens Reflex (DSLR) Cameras When Feasible

Employees shall receive training from the Photo Unit, Advanced Training Section or pre-approved specialized training on DSLR camera systems and investigative photography techniques prior to use.

Sergeants and follow up units assigned DSLR cameras may respond to document incidents.

DSLR cameras will be used to document forensic evidence. For the purposes of this policy, forensic evidence includes, but is not limited to the following examples: latent fingerprints, tire tread impressions, footwear impressions, use of force injuries, and tool marks.

Exception: If a DSLR camera is not available, a responding sergeant or detective may contact on-duty CSI or Photo Unit personnel for assistance.  If no on-duty DSLR equipped personnel are available, employees may use Axon Capture.

Employees will upload photos taken with a DSLR camera to DEMS.

Evidentiary photographs taken by specialized or forensic units with digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR) will continue to use DEMS to upload and store photographs.

20. Employees May Use an Existing Department Camera if Axon Capture or a Department-Issued Device are not Available

The employee will contact Seattle IT as soon as feasible to resolve access issues with Axon Capture. 

7.090-PRO- 1 Submitting Photographic Evidence When DEMS is Not Functioning or Rejects Any Image from the Media Card


1. Removes the media card from the device.

2. Documents in the report that photographic evidence was created but not submitted through DEMS due to a system malfunction.

3. Completes the information on a Photographic Media Envelope (Form 50).

4. Submits the media card in the Photographic Media Envelope via Department mail to the Photographic Services Unit.

Photographic Services Unit

5. Obtains the images from the media card and uploads the images into DEMS under the appropriate report number.

6. Notifies the employee via email that the photographic evidence is available in DEMS.

7. Returns the media card to the employee via Department mail.

7.090-PRO-2 Obtaining an “Official” Printed Evidentiary Photograph from the Photographic Services Unit for Images Submitted to DEMS or Evidence.com


1. Emails the Photographic Service Unit (SPD PhotoLab) referencing the report number and requesting an “official” printed copy of the photograph(s).

Photographic Services Unit

2. Creates an “official” print and sends the print back to the requesting employee in Department mail.

7.090-PRO-3 Submitting Photographic Evidence Not Created by a Department Employee


1. Completes the evidence submittal with barcode and places the photographic media evidence or device in the envelope.

2. Documents that electronic evidence containing photographs was submitted in the report.

3. Submits the envelope to the Evidence Unit by the end of their shift.

7.090-PRO-4 Submitting Photographic Evidence when Captured by a Department Employee Using a Non-Department Owned Device


1. Documents in the report that a non-Department device was used and the reason for the use and exigent circumstances in a report, statement or supplement.

2. Responds to the Photographic Service Unit in-person with the device.

Photographic Services Unit

3. Transfers the images captured on the device to DEMS.

4. Returns the device to the submitting employee.

7.090-TSK-1 Submitting Photographic Evidence Via AXON Capture on Evidence.com

When submitting photos to Evidence.com an employee:

1. Opens Axon Capture mobile application on a Department-issued smartphone.

2. Takes a photograph of the call information displayed on the Mobile Data Terminal screen or uses a photographic slate with the report number at the beginning of the sequence.

3. Captures photographs.

4. Selects all photographs taken during the photographic sequence.

5. Uses Axon Capture to bulk tag and associate the report number using YYYY-123456 format.

6. Bulk assigns appropriate crime offense category to photographs.

7. Verifies photographs are successfully uploaded to Evidence.com via Axon Capture. 

8. Documents in the report that photographs were taken with Axon Capture and uploaded into Evidence.com.

8. Notifies the Photographic Services Unit at 684-5756 or spd.photolab@seattle.gov if Axon Capture upload process fails.

7.090-TSK-2 Image Processing of Photographic Evidence Uploaded to Evidence.com

When processing images in Evidence.com, a technician

1. Searches Evidence.com for appropriate digital photographs.

2. Creates working copies of originals by downloading and temporarily storing photographs onto a Department desktop computer.

3. Uses DEMS or Department-approved image processing software to perform image enhancements, clarifications or analysis of images.

4. Documents steps performed within image processing software to enhance, clarify or analyze photographs within report or file metadata.

5. Uploads working copies and associated files or final work products into Evidence.com or DEMS.

7.090-TSK-3 Employees Handling Photographic Evidence When Axon Capture Fails to Upload Images

1. Checks smartphone and ensures device has a cellular signal or is connected to secure Wi-Fi.

2. Attempts to increase cellular signal by changing locations or moving away from obstructions.

3. Ensures Axon Capture is logged into seattlepd.evidence.com.

4. Uses City email address (e.g., john.doe@seattle.gov) and password to log in.

5. Follows 7.090-TSK-1 upload procedures.

6. Notifies the Photographic Services Unit at 684-5756 or spd.photolab@seattle.gov if Axon Capture upload process continues to fail.

7. Utilizes other means of capturing photos, as necessary.

7.090-TSK-4 Submitting Photographic Evidence Via DEMS System Web Kiosk

When submitting photos to the DEMS an employee:

1. Inserts Media card and opens the DEMS Web Kiosk

2. Selects “Log On” followed by Record (New Kiosk)

3. Enters the Case number in the YYYY-123456 format (Do not pad with 0’s). Case number must be entered identically twice. Select “OK”.

For Use of Force cases begin with UOF- followed by the YYYY-123456 format.

4. Selects the Crime Offense from the drop-down menu.

If a previous folder exists under this case number, you cannot change the Crime Offense

Select Use of Force in the drop-down menu for UOF cases.

Enter the capture date and complete the Photographer / Description box and select “OK”.

5. Chooses Network Drive: SD Media cards default to the N Drive. Click on the N Drive; files will appear in the right-side window. Choose “Select All”, then select “OK”.

6. Completes Upload: Once upload is completed, the system will indicate, “The files have been imported successfully, would you like to delete the files from the media source?”, select “NO”.

View import box. If a number is listed under “imported”, select “OK”. The upload process is complete.

7. Verifies photographs are successfully uploaded to the DEMS system. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to your Department e-mail account. Once the e-mail is received, delete the images by re-formatting the SD card in camera.

8. Documents in the report that photographs were taken with a Department-issued camera and uploaded to the DEMS system.

8. Notifies the Photographic Services Unit at (206) 684-5756 or spd.photolab@seattle.gov if DEMS upload process fails.