Issues with Flint police evidence
Flint — A consulting firm said it found problems with how the Flint Police Department stores evidence.
The Center for Public Safety Management said in an 82-page report that improperly secured evidence was found on a floor and improperly tagged guns in a shopping cart.
The police department also has not been audited for several years, failed to discard unneeded evidence, can’t accurately account for all property or say exactly where some evidence is stored, The Flint Journal reported Saturday.
The Washington D.C.-based company was hired by former state-appointed emergency manager Darnell Earley to assess the efficiency and adequacy of the city’s police department. The state has oversight of fiscally struggling Flint and its police operations.
The condition of the evidence room “poses a significant ongoing liability threat to the city, the department and its employees,” according to the report.
The number of items stored is believed to top 300,000. Some — including old homicide evidence — goes back 50 years. About 10,000 handguns need to be sorted.
“Upon physical inspection, the consultants were astounded by the sheer volume of property and evidence that is currently in the department’s possession,” said the report, which added that the evidence room needs to be secured and reorganized, and have an annual inventory.
The police and fire departments are evaluating recommendations from the report, current emergency manager Gerald Ambrose said in a statement.
“We still have severe limitations on the available revenue for public safety services,” Ambrose said. “These studies provide recommendations on changes the departments can use to operate within those budget limits.”
Some changes already are taking place.
“We have in fact been working on the evidence room for about eight or nine months now, trying to clear space, trying to match up evidence to cases,” Police Chief James Tolbert said.
The issue has been a problem for years, said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.
Some evidence in cases was tough to find, others could not be found.
“When any evidence disappears, it hurts the search for justice,” Leyton said. “I’m certain the Flint Police Department would love to go over there and bring it up to 2015 standards, but it takes resources, and with this economic climate, it’s not easy.”