EUGENE, Ore. — An external audit of the Eugene Police Department revealed that thousands of pieces of evidence are missing or unaccounted for.
The Eugene Police Department says it’s trying to figure out how to improve its unit that handles evidence. According to an external audit, the department needs some major tuning up.
“Our goal at this point is to bring it up to a nationally accredited level and keep it there,” said Capt. Scott Fellman, Eugene Police Department.
EPD is working to fix a major issue with its Property Control Unit, the unit responsible for handling pieces of evidence from cases. The unit was audited in April of 2012, which resulted in some alarming findings for EPD.
“The overall discovery that we had several systems and processes that we were using that don’t meet national standards,” Fellman said.
The audit produced more than 450 pages of findings and recommendations for improving the EPD’s Property Control Unit. The department discovered the unit was significantly understaffed. That lack of staffing caused a lot of pieces of evidence to build up at the station. And some of that evidence is reportedly missing or unable to be located.
“We ought to have a total inventory of around 40,000 items as opposed to the 90,000 items that we have today,” Fellman said.
Among the pieces of evidence that are unable to be located are drugs as well as weapons.
Eugene police are working to address the issue and have already added staff to prevent future mix-ups. But the damage is done and police are skeptical that the missing pieces will turn up.
“Unlikely that we’re gonna actually locate all of them, but that’s the best case scenario,” Fellman said.
EPD has also removed three employees from the Property Control Unit while it tries to improve the process of handling evidence. The department is hopeful that the audit will provide some constructive guidance moving forward.
“That will serve as a roadmap for us as we fix the unit and bring it up to national standards,” Fellman said.
Eugene police told KEZI 9 News that not all of the pieces of evidence unaccounted for are necessarily missing, but they are unable to be located by police at this time.
Eugene’s police chief said in a news release that the findings from the audit are disappointing.