Site-specific information provides the foundation upon which a case can be built. Detailed notes, photographs, videos, and conversation records documenting the investigation and inspection play a critical role in case development. The evidence required in court or in administrative proceedings to establish a violation should be carefully documented. At a minimum, the following facts should be established: jurisdiction and violation(s), location of the violation(s), persons responsible for the violation(s), and extent of the violation(s).
Upon case referral to CalRecycle, all documentation should be sent to the grant cycle lead (see TEA contacts), for storage in the CalRecycle case file. Copies may be retained for the field staff file.
Much of your documentation will be recorded on the inspection forms (CIWMB 181, 182, and 183).
The following information, if applicable, should be included on inspection forms or in an additional document summarizing the inspection.
- Descriptions and evidence of violations found, e.g., number of waste tires found at an unpermitted site, location of the tires, etc.
- Unusual circumstances.
- Denial of site access.
- Persons present during the inspection.
- Extent of the violation.
- Person(s) responsible for the violation.
- Name and identification numbers on company equipment.
- Make, model, and license plate numbers of vehicles.
- Specific conversations that may help in making a case. (Note: If documenting this information may inflame or aggravate a situation, create additional documentation for the case file after leaving the inspection location.)
Good photographs go a long way toward proving a case. Often a single photograph will tell the story more clearly than pages of substantive description. However, the value of the photo documentation depends on:
Type of Camera and Photographic Media
The following types of cameras are acceptable for use in the field:
- Digital camera
- 35 mm still camera
- Video camera
Do not use a Polaroid camera to document case evidence. Polaroid photos are not very useful for evidentiary purposes because they can’t easily be enlarged or duplicated with quality.
Instructions for Taking Pictures and/or Video
Photographs/videos should be taken from the perimeter of the area in toward the center in increasingly close shots. Be sure to capture all objects and markings thoroughly so they can be identified later. Pencils, rulers, pens and similar familiar objects–even a person–can provide a reference to the sizes of objects in the frame.
Pictures should be taken to document where the waste tires are located in relationship to fixed-point surroundings or landmarks that can be used to pinpoint where the violation occurred.
- Safety preparations should be videotaped, but on-site personnel should not be taped while they are doing their jobs.
- Use natural light wherever possible, even if you must use fast film.
- Never videotape a violation scene with the recording microphone turned on. It is easy to reach erroneous conclusions, make other verbal mistakes or make disparaging or prejudicial comments during a live narration. The video should be supported by live testimony later in the case without any taped comments that conflict with sworn testimony. Remember you cannot erase taped verbal errors.
Aerial photography can also be a very useful tool and can be an option, using CalRecycle’s interagency agreement with the California Highway Patrol.
Identification of Photos/Videos
Identifying information must be written on the back of each picture (for prints) and/or in a “photo log” (for all types of cameras).
Documentation should include the following:
- Type of camera, film, and/or video equipment used.
- Date/time the picture/video was taken.
- Film roll/frame number (for 35 mm still cameras).
- The site’s SWIS (Solid Waste Information System) ID number or TPID (tire program number).
- A brief description of the photograph’s location, content or what is being documented, and direction of the view depicted in the picture. For example: “Looking NW from the SE corner of property, 1000 waste tires stored next to or within 40 feet of vegetation and other potentially flammable materials.”
- Names of individuals present when the picture was taken and their place of employment and position.
- Light conditions and/or weather.
- Person’s name who took the picture(s) and his/her signature or initials.
- Chain of custody on the photographs or video.
Storage of Photographs/Videos
Prints and negatives must be placed in a manila envelope and kept with the photo log in the field staff file. Photos should NOT be attached to sheets of paper with tape.
Digital photo files must be copied to a diskette or CD marked with the date/location, placed in a manila envelope, and kept with the photo log in the field staff file. Backup copies can be kept in a secure electronic file location. This location should be noted in the field staff file.
Videotapes must be kept in their individual cases, marked with the date/location, placed in a manila envelope, and kept with the photo log in the field staff file.
As a reminder, upon case referral to CalRecycle, all documentation should be sent to the grant cycle lead (see TEA contacts), for storage in the CalRecycle case file. Copies may be retained for the field staff file.