EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene police says its property control unit has been inadequately operated for decades. A recent audit proved just that, revealing a long list of bad practice needing attention.
Chief Pete Kerns says that attention is now being paid in the form of a brand new staff, a new protocol and two investigations.
The audit revealed some questionable practices, a severely insignificant staff, and more than 1,100 pieces of evidence unable to be located. In short, EPD’s property control unit was in serious need of an overhaul.
“It is very disappointing to discover the extent of the shortcomings of this operation here,” Kerns said.
Chief Kerns says he knew things were out of order at the department’s property control unit, but not as bad as a 2012 audit revealed.
“What the audit tells us is that our staffing was inadequate. We also know now that some of our systems are not as efficient as they could be,” Kerns said.
One of the worst revelations, 1,116 items of evidence we’re deemed unable to locate.
All this negative news prompted EPD to clean house of people and practices, bringing in a new supervisor from a different department and eventually seven other new employees.
“When the sergeant became embedded in the work unit here, after a number of weeks, it became evident that an internal affairs investigation had been indicated, so we separated three of the employees from the work space,” Kerns said.
So EPD launched an internal investigation and called on Oregon State Police to also do an independent criminal investigation to figure out if and how policies were violated by former employees.
“My concern is that policies were violated and that there’s potential that crimes were committed, and those investigations haven’t run their course yet,” Kerns said.
As the investigation continues, the new and larger staff will do its best to try to locate the at-large evidence, while instating new protocol to get the unit back up to standard.
“There will be a whole new normal, and we will go from many years of not operating within national standards to one where we’re an accredited work unit, property control unit,” Kerns said.