A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about an evidence vault exploding in a freak incident that is now under investigation. The explosion ruined evidence in a number of cases which are no being reviewed. The cases may not be able to proceed without the evidence.

We bring up that post today because a recent example of evidence tampering highlights how the legal processes in place and the adherence to ethics in criminal investigations are incredibly important. Without them, we would live in a lawless land where no one could trust anything that the police or the judiciary did. Because we have ethical norms and laws, the rights people are granted protect them from nefarious or otherwise illegal behavior.

Case in point: three police officers in Jacksonville, Florida have been arrested for tampering with a crime scene — their own undercover vehicle — after they were involved in a fatal shooting. According to the report, the three detectives removed cans of beer from their vehicle after the shooting. They allegedly did this in a coordinated effort, meaning this was conspiratorial criminal conduct by the police officers.

This may seem like a minor incident. All the police officers did was move some beer cans out of their car, right? But it is illegal for undercover police officers to have beer in their car unless it used as a prop. And if they were using it as a prop, then why thrown them away after the fact?

Little pieces of evidence like this are crucial in any criminal investigation, and preserving that evidence to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with or affected is an integral part of having a transparent and accurate investigation.

Source: News4JAX, “3 detectives accused of tampering with evidence after police-involved shooting,” Feb. 16, 2017