General Policy Information
Latest Revision Date: 5/15/2013
Title 1 - Department Structure and Function
Title 2 - Department Employment
Title 3 - Employee Welfare
Title 4 - Timekeeping
Title 5 - Employee Conduct
Title 6 - Arrests, Search and Seizure
Title 7 - Evidence and Property
Title 8 - Use of Force
Title 9 - Equipment and Uniforms
Title 10 - Police Facilities & Security
Title 11 - Detainee Management
Title 12 - Department Information Systems
Title 13 - Vehicle Operations
Title 14 - Emergency Operations
Title 15 - Primary Investigation
15.210 - Investigating Property Held by a Pawnshop or Used-Goods Store
Title 16 - Patrol Operations
Effective Date: 3/26/2010
All money, including counterfeit currency, submitted to the Evidence Unit will be packaged in sealed, serial numbered currency envelopes. Amounts $300 and higher will only be accepted in sealed, serial numbered currency envelopes bearing the signatures of two employees.
The Seattle Police Department will only store money items whose value as evidence goes beyond the mere face value of the currency. All other money items will be deposited into a bank account 90 days after submission unless: a) it qualifies as an exception or b) written justification to retain the item is provided.
Mere possession of money by a person arrested for a crime does not justify taking the money as evidence. Money shall not be taken from a person as evidence unless there is probable cause to believe the money is stolen or is the fruit of a crime. See Seattle Police Manual Section 15.150 - Narcotics, for additional information regarding seizing money. Absent probable cause, money shall be handled as personal property.
A. Collectible / Sentimental Value – all gold coins, U.S. silver coins minted before 1965, and paper currency printed before 1964.
When assessing value, employees should evaluate the circumstances under which the item was found. This may include location, type of packaging, special markings, or whether the item is encased in frames or books. If any doubt exists whether the item has collectible or sentimental value, process it as if it does.
II. Retention Criteria
These money types are exceptions and will be retained in the Evidence Unit:
A. Counterfeit currency
B. Money requiring laboratory examination (fingerprints, DNA, etc)
C. Foreign money (including Canadian)
D. Money that is known or suspected to be bio-hazardous
E. Money with collectible or sentimental value, including any coin or paper money that has a value beyond its face value (e.g. – a $20 Kruggerand gold coin)
F. “Marked” buy money
The submitting officer must write the exception category (counterfeit, foreign, etc.) on the outside of the currency envelopes to ensure these items are retained.
III. Safekeeping Money
A. The Evidence Unit will not accept personal property money of an arrestee for safekeeping under any circumstance. The money must stay with the arrestee.
B. Personal property money of other persons should remain with those persons when they are transported to their destination (hospital, etc). If this is not possible, officers may place this money into evidence for safekeeping. Officers must complete a Property Release Letter (form 13.9) and a Property Disposition Authorization (form 1.17) listing an identified owner at the time of submission.
IV. Found Property Money
A. Found property money is subject to all provisions of this chapter and must be packaged the same way as evidence money.
B. The submitting officer must complete a General Offense Report, including the Found Property Template.
C. If the owner is known, the submitting officer must:
1. Attempt to contact the owner.
2. Fill in the Owner Contacted By, Date/Time Owner Contacted and Property Disposition fields of the Found Property Template.
3. Complete a Property Release Letter (form 13.9) and a Property Disposition Authorization (form 1.17).
V. Air-Drying Bio-Hazardous / Wet Money
A. Do not put money contaminated with biological fluids (blood, saliva, semen, etc), in a currency envelope while wet. Doing so causes irreversible deterioration of the biological evidence.
Money that is stained by a dye pack, or is just wet, is not considered bio-hazardous. However, these items must also be air-dried before being put in currency envelopes.
B. The primary investigator is responsible for properly packaging items to be air-dried. It is preferred that items be air-dried, then counted and sealed in currency envelopes before submission to Evidence. If this is not practical, use following procedure:
1. Place the money in an air-dry bag and “evidence seal” the bag. Use care to ensure that the seal is put on the paper edge of the bag, not the fabric portion.
2. Write the GON and value of the currency on the paper edge of the bag.
3. Complete a currency envelope and paper clip it to the outside of the bag. Do not staple.
4. Submit the air-dry bag into evidence.
a. Use a red biohazard bag when delivering money from a remote location to the Evidence Unit.
VI. Submitting Money as Evidence
A. All currency must be packaged in sealed, serial numbered currency envelopes.
B. Amounts $300 and over must be individually counted and witnessed by 2 sworn employees. Both employees must then sign the currency envelope. Officers are encouraged to use the two-person cash count for amounts under $300.
C. Primary Investigator:
1. Separate money into the categories listed in paragraphs (II)(A) through (II)(F). These items will automatically be retained in the Evidence Unit. Be sure to write the category (counterfeit, etc.) on the envelope.
a. If you want to retain other money items, see paragraph (VII)(B) below.
b. If the condition of the money may be a factor in the case, package it as you found it. Describe the condition in detail in the report so that the Law Department or a follow-up unit may decide whether or not to retain the money.
2. Complete a currency envelope for each segregated money item. Use a ballpoint pen or medium point permanent marker. This will that ensure the information on the envelope is legible.
3. Steps 3a and 3b are for felonies only.
a. The primary investigator will photograph each currency envelope, ensuring the envelope is clearly visible.
b. The primary investigator will take one photograph of each money item before packaging. It is not necessary to photograph each bill or coin; simply arrange the money so that it is reasonably visible in the photograph.
(1) The primary investigator will submit the memory card to the Photographic Services Unit using the Photographic Media Envelope, (form 50) under the General Offense Number. One GO number per memory card.
(2) The memory card will be entered into the Property Report with the Property Status “SPD Photos.” Do not create a barcode for the Photographic Media Envelope (form 50) or list the memory card as evidence.
(3) The Photographic Services Unit will produce prints of the images, or a copy of the images on a CD or both, at the request of the investigating officer.
4. Place the segregated money into its currency envelope and seal the envelope. Do not overfill.
5. Record the currency envelope number(s) in the Cross Reference field of the Property Report. If a second officer counted and witnessed the count of the currency, list his/her name and serial number in the narrative.
6. Example: “Currency envelope #A123456 containing $450.25 counted by I.M. Acop #1234, and M.E. Tou #2345”.
7. The primary investigator will list the photographs on a Property Report with the Property Status “SPD Photos.”
8. Deliver the currency envelope to the Evidence Unit.
VII. Money Retention Justification
A. Items will be deposited into a bank account 90 days after submission unless a written retention justification is provided to the Evidence Unit.
1. The Seattle Law Department is responsible for misdemeanor cases sent to them for their review.
2. Follow-up unit detectives are responsible for determining the need to retain money items on felony cases and misdemeanors not forwarded to the Law Department.
B. To retain a money item, send an Evidence Money Retention VMAIL to the Evidence handle. This will ensure the money is not banked. A specific justification is required.
VIII. Returning Money to Evidence
A. The Evidence Unit will not accept unsealed currency envelopes for any reason. If a currency envelope is opened, the employee returning it must:
1. Repackage the money in a new currency envelope.
2. Notify Evidence Unit staff if the currency amount being returned is different from what was checked out and the reason for the difference.
IX. Evidence Money Release / Return to Owner
A. Money will be authorized for release in the same manner as other property.
B. Officers/Detectives must list money items individually on the Property Disposition Authorization (form 1.17).
C. The Evidence Unit will return retained money to the owner with any other property being claimed.
D. Owners claiming money that has been banked will be paid by check.
E. The Evidence Unit will notify the Fiscal Unit of all money that is released “to director” or is unclaimed. Retained money will be banked as part of the disposition process.