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Behind the Badge Property Officer Teri King maintains critical evidence

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Posted: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 12:00 am

Property Officer Teri King starts her day a bit differently than most. While the police department moves rapidly around her, Teri spends her day methodically inventorying and processing thousands of pieces of evidence and property stored at the Lodi Police Department.

A 25-year employee of the Lodi Police Department, Teri has spent the majority of her career handling and processing evidence. Teri began her career as a CSO (Community Service Officer) taking reports and collecting evidence.

A graduate of Humphreys College, Teri has utilized her training as a paralegal to assist her with maintaining one of the most crucial areas of police work: evidence.

Q: What have you seen change the most in the last 25 years?

A: The biggest changes I have seen have come in the form of advanced technology. Computers have totally changed the face of evidence processing. We now have the ability to barcode the evidence and scan it in, which helps tracking evidence and property tremendously. The advances in technology have not only assisted in property and evidence tracking, but it also has assisted in forensic advancements for solving crimes.

Q: What type of specialized training did you receive?

A: After graduating with an associate degree from Delta College, I went on to get my paralegal certification from Humphreys College.

I have been trained by the FBI as a latent print examiner and have received specialized training by the Department of Justice in serial number restoration on firearms. I have had training in the area of palm print comparisons, identification and bite marks.

The bite mark training, as well as the serial number restoration training, was very interesting to me. I have had several successful identifications of firearms that had obliterated serial numbers because of this specialized training.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?

A: The hardest part of my job is dealing with the release of weapons. Oftentimes, the state regulations restrict the release of firearms to owners if certain criteria are met.

For example, some restraining orders prevent the release of a firearm to a citizen, which makes my job difficult. I have to explain to citizens that I cannot release their firearms per the California state laws, which sometimes can be frustrating for them.

I have to stay up-to-date on all of the legal changes and new legislation in order to be versed in the changing laws. Having paralegal experience has really helped me in this area.

Q: What is your typical day like?

A: I start off my day by emptying all of the lockers which hold and secure evidence and property which have been booked by the officers. With the new technologies the Lodi Police Department has acquired, my job has become much easier, because most of the property has already been entered electronically.

After removing the property from the secured lockers, I then process any evidence that has been requested by an officer. I may dust for latent prints, or collect blood evidence.

Once everything has been processed I then package it and apply a bar code. The evidence is then stored in a secure area until the case is resolved in court. Some evidence must be stored for many years, because of the length of statute of limitations for each case.

I spend a lot of my time purging evidence that we no longer need to store, and contacting citizens to recover their found property.

Q: When you're not processing evidence, what do you like to do for fun?

A: I really enjoy knitting, riding my motorcycle, and playing with my puppy, Dexter the Boston terrier.

Q: What is the most interesting case you have ever worked on?

A: I was involved in the Menzel homicide case in 1991, which is unsolved to this day. During this case, I assisted in the collection of multiple pieces of evidence. At the time, forensic technology was not what it is today. DNA testing was not readily available.

There have been multiple times over the years that I have sent pieces of this evidence for DNA testing and retesting with the hope we could identify a suspect. Unfortunately, this case is still unsolved, but I am still hopeful we will solve this homicide someday.

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