Addressing the Complexities of Digital Evidence

As noted in a 2014 Police Chief article, “Assessing the Impact of Digital Evidence on State and Local Policing,” the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has recognized that state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) law enforcement agency (LEA) executives have been increasingly challenged by the universal presence and value of digital evidence (DE) in all aspects of professional policing over the past decade and a half. This trend has continued, and, in 2018, LEAs currently face policy, legal, and technical challenges to accessing critical DE needed for successful investigations and for performing other public safety functions. Law enforcement has a significant, growing need for reasonable and legal access to DE, the creation of proper digital evidence policies and practices, the development of adequate digital forensic capability (particularly human capital), the establishment of a DE quality management program that includes a sustainability model, and the integration of DE practices with operational risk management. To this end, the IACP Technology Policy Framework identifies a number of principles to guide policy development that are relevant to DE.