We have a right to expect organizational procedures to be flawless at a police department. As an agency that compiles and stores evidence, a police department has a high level of responsibility to citizens.
It was, therefore, alarming to read an auditor’s report that the Dallas Police Department’s guns, Tasers, radios and badges are “not adequately safeguarded.”
The Dallas Morning News reported on the audit of the quartermaster’s unit which highlighted “sloppy record-keeping and incomplete security procedures and inventory tracking.” The auditor summed up these issues as “significant internal control deficiencies.”
The audit report described the unit’s high risk inventory procedures as “incomplete, informal, not reviewed and not communicated periodically,” according to the report.
A number of security problems were cited in the report:
- There were no video cameras at the quartermasters’ unit to document the handing over of items. The videos themselves are stored for no longer than two or three weeks. And there are no cameras in the warehouse or file room.
- The report highlighted file cabinets that are left unlocked during business hours, while the keys for badges and radios were found in an unlocked desk drawer.
- The combination code on the weapon safe was not changed periodically, and the weapon vault wasn’t re-keyed periodically.
- Windows were discovered above deadbolt locks, making a break-in easy. — The key to the deadbolt was in the locked door. The report said the doors in question had not been been re-keyed in at least five years.
- The auditor said security badge access was being given without proper documented authorization, and police don’t take away unauthorized people’s access consistently. Three financial and contract management staffers who have no daily responsibilities for the quartermaster, were found to have nearly complete access to everything while 18 non-unit workers had access to the warehouse storing inventory items, although not the weapons vault.
The City Auditor recommended the police department fix the security and inventory control issues highlighted in the report.
Although these lapses are not directly related to the collection of evidence, it’s worrying that a police department would have so many sloppy procedures highlighted by an auditor and it does not bode well for how the Dallas Police Department performs in the administration of justice.