Main Phone: (775) 328-2800
The Evidence Section of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office is responsible for all evidence submitted for forensic science division examinations. Evidence is received from more than 80 law enforcement agencies. The Evidence Section receives blood, urine and coroner samples for toxicology, narcotics for drug analysis, weapons for firearms testing, and clothing for trace and serology examination. Evidence is also submitted for DNA testing, fingerprinting, arson examination, tool mark testing and shoeprint comparison. The Evidence Section is also the main repository for all divisions of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. On average, the Evidence Section completes over 50,000 transactions each year, from receiving evidence to temporarily releasing evidence for examination and returning completed evidence to the submitting agency and retention records for the Sheriff's Office.
Evidence must be submitted to the FSD through the Washoe County Sheriff's Office Evidence Section. It is the responsibility of the Evidence Section to ensure that all evidence is submitted correctly.
- All packages must have a chain of custody with contents accurately listed
- All packages must be properly sealed with evidence tape and initialed
- A laboratory examination form stating which tests are being requested must be included
- A synopsis of the case must be included
- All Money must be counted prior to submission
- All biological evidence must be in a dried condition
- All plant material must be in a dried condition
When evidence is submitted through the mail, it must be properly packaged (see "Evidence Packaging" section) beneath the exterior wrapper, and may be sent to the address below by any of several carriers (U.S. mail: certified, registered, or overnight; FedEx; or
Washoe County Sheriff's Office Evidence Section
911 Parr Boulevard
Reno, NV 89512-1000
Properly packaged evidence may also be submitted in person through the Evidence Section's locker room. The locker room may be accessed through the "EVIDENCE" door near the prisoner intake area, which is located to the rear of the Sheriff's Office (see map below). With proper identification, a key to the "EVIDENCE" door may be signed out at the Sheriff's Office Front Desk (staffed daily from 0700 until 2230 hrs.) or the Detention Facility Central Control. After entering the "EVIDENCE" door, continue through the door to your left, into the locker room.
Washoe County FIS Evidence Drop-Off Parking map (294kb PDF)
Once inside, you will find instructions and some of the materials necessary to be sure that your evidence is properly packaged and sealed. Proper packaging includes a chain of custody and a properly completed "EXAMINATION REQUEST
Our largest locker measures approximately 45" wide, by 22" deep, by 17" high. If your evidence item does not fit into that space, must be maintained frozen, or it is in a stage of advanced decay, then the evidence must be brought in during our regular business hours.
Examination Request Form (29kb PDF)
Examination Request Form (pictured above):
The Examination Request Form (S-168) is a three (3)-part form, which is normally located in a drawer of the workbench in the evidence locker room. Blank forms can be sent to agencies upon request. Please write neatly and press firmly (3 copies). If the request is not legible it will delay the processing of the evidence.
One form must be completely filled in and attached to each package submitted to the FSD, except for Toxicology samples. (Please do not submit an Examination (S-168) Form for Toxicology services. See the Toxicology section for detailed information on submitting toxicology samples.) The contents of each package must be carefully described and itemized; and terms such as "few", "numerous", "miscellaneous", "several", and other similar descriptors will not be accepted. Packages with these vague types of descriptions will be returned un-opened to the submitting agency, with a request for proper itemization and re-submission for examination.
Under the "EXAM REQUESTED" section of the form, please clearly mark each examination you would like conducted on the item(s). If the item(s) will require several exams, mark each type of exam required. If one of the exams is more important to your case than another, such as fingerprints being more important than other analysis in a case, please use the "NOTES, SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS" section to advise the FSD of that fact. You may also use this section to advise the lab of any special circumstances such as court dates, results of exam needed for warrant request, or a synopsis of the case. A case synopsis or a copy of your report attached to the Examination Request Form will usually answer any questions and expedite the examination.
Each package submitted to the lab must have a CHAIN OF CUSTODY attached. It may be pre-printed on the container, or it may be printed on a separate form and then attached to the container. For your convenience, a chain of custody has been printed on the back of the hard copy of the Examination Request Form. Please use it if you have no other, or if you have run out of signature spaces on yours.
If evidence is re-submitted to the FSD, the original chain of custody should be continued. If the chain is transferred to another form, that fact should be noted at the end of the original form. Please do not package the original chain inside the container. When the Examination Request Form has been completely filled in, keep the yellow copy for your case records, attach the remaining blue and hard copies to the appropriate package, and place the package into a locker. To help simplify your submissions, the Evidence Section can supply you with extra forms, which may be completed in advance.
Evidence submitted to the FSD must be safely and securely packaged. The packaging must prevent loss of evidence, cross contamination of evidence, and injury to those who handle the item(s).
All container openings must be properly secured with tape or other appropriate fastener(s), and then sealed with security type tape, which must be initialed by the person who packaged the evidence. The initials should be partially on the tape and partially on the package. Items submitted without security tape over the openings will be returned to the submitting agency with a request for proper packaging and re-submission for examination. NOTE: Staples are not authorized and a tape seal is the only preferred method.
Obviously, proper evidence packaging begins when the items are first collected. Ideally, each item should be packaged separately and then the packages destined for similar examinations may be grouped into one evidence sealed container. For example, the clothing from a suspect consists of “1-pair of shoes, 1-pair of socks, 1-pair of under shorts, 1-t-shirt, 1-pair of jeans with a belt, and 1-jacket”. These items should be packaged in eight individual packages, with only the jeans and belt in the same package. The packages may be placed into one larger container which is properly sealed and labeled, and has the evidence chain of custody and Examination Request Form attached.
The following information must be noted on each package submitted:
a) The name of the submitting agency;
b) The case number;
c) A description of the contents; and
d) The date, time, and the location from which the evidence was collected.
If the contents of the package require special handling, such as a loaded gun, biohazardous materials (bodily fluids), items to be fingerprinted, etc., special alert labels must be placed in a prominent area of the package. These labels are kept in the storage drawers of the workbench in the evidence locker room.
Special Attention Items:
HYPODERMIC devices, needles, and similar items WILL NOT be routinely accepted by the FSD. If an examination of these items is absolutely necessary, prior permission to submit the items must be obtained from the Laboratory Director, or her designee. With this permission, the items must be packaged in special puncture proof containers with the proper warning labels attached. The containers and labels are available from the Evidence Section. Alternatively, the contents of a hypodermic syringe can be emptied into a suitable glass or plastic vial prior to submission to the lab for testing.
GLASS FRAGMENTS, knives, and other sharp items must be packaged so that persons handling them will not be injured due to the item puncturing through the container. This is especially true if the item is contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids. In this case, the item must also exhibit two warnings: one which relates to the SHARP item, and one which relates to the BIOHAZARD.
Vials of LIQUID BLOOD must be packaged in a manner which will likely prevent the vials from breakage. Special styrofoam mailers are commercially available for this purpose. Whichever packaging method you choose, the package which contains the vials must also be enclosed in a sealed plastic bag to prevent leakage should the vials break. If the package is to be mailed to the Forensic Science Division, a frozen "Blue Ice" type pack should also be enclosed to help preserve the samples, and it should be mailed using an overnight service.
If you have any questions regarding the proper packaging of an item, please feel free to contact the Forensic Science Division at (775) 328-2800 or the Evidence Clerks in the Evidence Section at (775) 328-3060.