AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBIN LYNN TRENCH




Reprinted From The Evidence Log an IAPE Publication for Members
Volume 1993, Number 3, Page 3





Robin Lynn Trench is the President of the International Association for Property and Evidence. With decades of combined experience as a Property Officer, Reserve Patrol Sergeant, Administration of Justice College Instructor, and expert witness, her qualifications and reputation precede her. She founded the California Association for Property and Evidence which grew within three years to include membership from 80% of the agencies statewide. Robin has addressed legislative hearings, her articles have been widely published, and she is well know for her energetic "we can accomplish anything" style of leadership.

We asked our members and staff what they would ask her, if they had the chance. Here are some of her responses.

Question: As a member of the Executive Board, what have you found most challenging?
Working on the recent revision of the by-laws. It was a great opportunity to contribute to a team effort. It took the entire team and the membership to create and approve the changes. The process was fascinating and provided a unique opportunity to get better acquainted with a lot of different people. It also provides a sense of completion. The approved revisions have been sent to the printers. Copies will be available to the membership in September.

Question: As President, what future changes do you see for I.A.P.E.?
One of our main priorities is upgrading our phone system. Our current voice mail is not as effective as it should be. Plans are in progress for the installation of an 800 line. It will make the staff more directly available to our members. To be of service, we have to first be accessible. Hopefully, the line will be in by early winter.

Question: Won't an 800 number cost I.A.P.E. more?
Perhaps, a little, but our main goal is education and training. We surveyed the needs of our membership. Many agencies have cut back on long distance phone calls. That means that if a member has a question on audits or packaging or safety issues it has to be mailed in. Our priority is to be here with answers if needed. Even if a member still reaches the voice mail because all lines are being used, it is cost free. That means dues paid are going directly toward expanding our services to our members.

Question: What is your view on training events?
I think the board as a whole shares the view of expanding the number of events provided. Having one event each year is nice but it is very costly for someone in California to fly to Iowa or New York. Add a natural calamity such as 20 inches of rain in the last three months which forced the cancellation of the Iowa Conference. The result is everyone losses valuable training.

Next years plans are to involve a number of smaller training events. Courses will encompass no more than 35 students to a class and last three days. This lets our instructors do most of the traveling to various areas. Smaller training events with a greater number of locations provides maximum opportunity for training and education at the most economical cost to everyone. Consider the opportunity to select from four or five locations for training instead of just one. About one-third of our members attend training on their own time, at their own expense. There is nothing more rewarding than quality training that is accessible to all of the membership.

Question: I.A.P.E. has shown rapid growth in the past few months. What do you attribute this to?
A combination of a very hard working staff, up scaling equipment, expanding our mailings and the Lynn Peavey Company. The staff has really become a team. They enjoy contributing to a growing organization. New equipment has made jobs easier and provided more time to increase mailings. People have to know we exist before they can join the association. Mailings that target areas state by state have helped spread the word.

Question: You mentioned the Lynn Peavey Company. I thought I.A.P.E. was a non-profit association?
I.A.P.E. is a non-profit association. We are incorporated as a non-profit association through the state of Nevada. Our sole purpose is to provide training and education to Law Enforcement Property and Evidence Personnel on a national basis. Members from other English reading nations have joined our organization sharing information that meets everyone's needs.

Our recent association with the Lynn Peavey Company stems from a common desire to educate and train law enforcement property and evidence personnel. I.A.P.E. accepts sponsorships from companies interested in the goals of our organization. Doug Peavey of the Lynn Peavey Company has been an enthusiastic supporter of the needs for training. Peavey Company has donated flyers on I.A.P.E. for distribution as part of the Peavey catalog. While both organizations are autonomous, we share a common goal. The goal is to provide training that protects cases from being thrown out of court, protects property personnel from health risks due to lack of knowledge, and provides for a safe and positive working environment.

One of the things I like best about Lynn Peavey Company is the enthusiasm for change. I have personally experienced their willingness to work with members to create or change products to meet the needs of an agency or court. They refer people to our organization for help with training issues; we work with them when a need arises for a specialized product to meet a new evidence related need. They have a great staff and back up their products. Lynn Peavey Company has been a great help to I.A.P.E. through donation of printing and mailing of our literature without ever asking for anything in return. They are some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The Executive Board reviewed the offer from Doug Peavey and the Lynn Peavey Company to provide mailings. We are glad we accepted!

Question: What Do you feel is the most important thing I.A.P.E. has to offer?
HOPE! When I first started in property and evidencea sergeant showed me to an overstuffed room and said, "Here's the manual. Good Luck!" The "manual" was 10 pages long, written in law enforcement jargon, and contained minimal information on how to operate a property room. It took me weeks to track down laws that applied to handling property and then months to understand what they all meant. After about two years I thought I knew everything. But it wasn't until nearly five years later that I realized I had finally gotten a grasp on just about every possible variation that might come up. Even now, every once in a while, something new and challenging pops up to see if I am paying attention to legal details.

In most cases, people hired to handle property and evidence have little actual background in how to accomplish the task. While many law enforcement academies teach how evidence should be collected, very few teach what to do with it afterward. The reason is that patrol personnel are usually not required to know how to manage and store property and evidence. Financial transitions of the seventies moved many sworn officers out of property areas and back on patrol. Instead of a police officer with little training, para-professionals (civilians) with no training were given the task.

I.A.P.E. offers HOPE. Hope through training & education. I.A.P.E. researches questions and provides options for your consideration. Through I.A.P.E. our members know they have a resource that will help them. It's like turning on a light in a dark room and finding yourself in a resource library.

Question: You often stress membership involvement. Why is this so important?
When someone takes the time to write an article, or clip a news item, or mail in something, everyone wins. Sharing knowledge is critical to training and education. It keeps everyone up to date on changes within our profession. Sometimes a simple news clipping is the basis for an Evidence Log staff member to begin research on an article. Sometimes simply sending in a question begins the process. If one person needs an answer, others need the answer also.

Question: What is your philosophy about I.A.P.E.?
For me personally, I.A.P.E. is a win-win situation. One can never lose through education and learning. I have found the many professionals I have met to be warm hearted and generous people. They are generous with knowledge, information and very supportive. Without exception, I have had the pleasure of having vendors and hotel staff alike at training events comment "These are the nicest group of people" or "What a great group of professionals to work with." I agree.

I think being part of a professional association should be exciting. It should be exciting to receive a copy of the Evidence Log, knowing that articles and information are inside that help to make better professionals. It is fun to read something and realize I forgot I knew that. It should be exciting to see old friends at a training event, sharing new concepts and new ideas.

About 70% of all law enforcement agencies within the United States and Canada are not large enough to justify more than one or two people working the property function. I think it is exciting to facilitate a class where people compare what they have. In almost every case, members leave feeling that things are a lot better than they thought.

I think that learning, education, professionalism, fun and excitement are all important elements that create job success. I believe in the win-win scenario. Our success is in providing training and information to our members.

Question: The Evidence Log has a new format. Will there be other changes involving publications?
A few have been planned. The Evidence Log has been changed to provide more room for specific training information. It will have holes drilled for saving in a standard three-hole binder. The paper will be heavier weight so it will be more useful as a resource journal. Often calls are received about articles that had appeared in the Evidence Log, but had been misplaced. The changes were made to improve readability and usefulness.

Plans for an I.A.P.E. Property Manual are in final stages. We hope to have the book published and available toward the end of the year. Final drafts are being reviewed.

Yearly guide books are being reviewed for possible changes in booklet construction.

Pamphlets are being created on individual topics such as Membership and the Distinguished Member Program. In the past, we have mailed entire sets of by-laws that include definitions of each program. It is more effective and less costly to publish and mail some of the more popular programs as a one or two page pamphlet.




Copyright © 1993 International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"



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