via @ChuckRabin @BrendaMedinar
For the past several years, random cops have had unfettered access to the Sweetwater Police Department’s evidence room. Signing a log sheet when entering or leaving wasn’t required. Cameras to record visits were broken or pointed the wrong way.
During that time, liquor bottles were mysteriously filled with only water, and tens of thousands of dollars disappeared. So did 19 weapons and 19 bicycles.
In all, 7,877 items that should have been safely tucked away in the small rectangular room down the hall from the chief’s office are missing, an audit by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found.
The audit also found that:
▪ Evidence was not logged properly or documented.
▪ There was an incomplete list of receipts and a lack of case numbers.
▪ And an internal control as simple as making certain two officers were present every time someone entered the room wasn’t enforced.
So far, there is no indication that missing evidence has harmed any prosecutions. But the findings place future cases in jeopardy, said Acting Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz. And in at least one instance, Diaz said, a man who had more than $5,000 confiscated from him and has asked that it be returned isn’t getting his money back anytime soon.