Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sheriff hopes to audit evidence room inventory

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 8/26/2013

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office wants to take inventory.

Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, asked members of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Monday to hire retired Det. Robert Moser to perform an inventory audit of the sheriff office’s evidence rooms.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office wants to take inventory.

Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, asked members of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Monday to hire retired Det. Robert Moser to perform an inventory audit of the sheriff office’s evidence rooms.

“At the sheriff’s office, we are examining a lot of the processes and procedures we do,” Richards said. “One of those big areas of liability and concern for anyone in my position would be our evidence and property room.”

When there’s a change in leadership, Richards said, it’s normal for an inventory audit to take place. Richards was appointed sheriff in April after Jeff Curry, who was elected to the position in 2012, resigned from the post amid charges of criminal wrongdoing.

“It’s common practice when you have a change in administration that an audit is done,” he said. “It’s not to say something is wrong or out of line, it just gets everything to say how this is, how we are, and if there’s a better way to get it done than we’ll go that way.”

The inventory audit will help keep a system of checks and balances, Richards said, and hopefully will help streamline some of the processes for checking evidence in and out.

“Basically [Moser] will help us as far as the inventory and how our best way to do that is so we have accountability,” Richards said. “It will help implement some policy that will include how you handle and package evidence and how it’s stored, checked out, things like that. Lots of times it’s better to have outside people participate in that so no one can say something shady was going on.”

There currently is no record of when the last inventory audit was performed, Richards said, so doing the audit will take some time.

“We’ll take everything that we’ve got and compare that with all the paperwork and the information in our computer system,” he said. “Then we compare that to everything we have and line that up to make sure everything’s in order.”

Evidence no longer of use to the county attorney’s office and the sheriff’s office will be disposed of properly, Richards said, and some property might even be returned to its owner.

“Depending on what the status of it is, we may have to have a destruction order,” he said. “Say [the item] is drugs or guns or something we don’t need anymore, we may have to get a destruction or disposal order from the court and get it disposed of properly. If it’s something that needs to be returned to an owner than we do that — it depends on what the item is.”

Instead of asking for a large company to come in for the audit, Richards said he preferred Moser because he came highly recommended and will help educate the sheriff’s office staff on proper procedures.

“There are companies that do it, but I shied away because they come in, they take care of it, say ‘This is where you are’ and they leave,” Richards said. “This is an individual who will come in and walk us through the process so there’s an education that goes along with it as well so we don’t turn around and have this same problem a few years down the road because maybe we’re not doing things.”

If county commissioners vote to contract with Moser, the retired detective would be paid at a daily rate of $285, which would come out of the Sheriff’s Trust fund, not from taxpayer dollars, according to the contract.

“[The inventory] would make us more efficient,” Richards said. “And hopefully our property technician doesn’t have to spend quite as much time in [the evidence rooms] taking care of things.”

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