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Cash held by Oklahoma City police is missing, audit finds

Police unit parked outside of the Oklahoma City Police Headquarters, downtown, Thursday, March 19, 2020.  [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Police unit parked outside of the Oklahoma City Police Headquarters, downtown, Thursday, March 19, 2020. [Photo by Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

An Oklahoma City Police Department office that handles millions of dollars in cash lacked adequate controls to prevent theft, failed to make timely dispositions of currency and was unable to account for $27,000, an audit determined.

The report released last week by City Auditor Jim Williamson's office states police leadership has begun implementing reforms.

The report states the investigation of the Property Management Unit was initiated at the police department's request in response to allegations of unaccounted for cash.

On Nov. 2, 2018, envelopes holding $10,775 were missing, the report states. In addition, documentation could not be found sufficient to trace the whereabouts of $16,296 reportedly released to the Oklahoma County district attorney's office between May 15, 2003, and Nov. 2, 2018, it states.

Auditors counted cash on hand and assessed bank deposit records, both as of Nov. 2, 2018, and reviewed currency dispositions from July 1, 2017, to Nov. 2, 2018.

In that time span, the unit recorded receipts of about $2.35 million and released about $2.14 million, auditors found. The Property Management Unit had about $1.4 million on hand on June 30, 2019, $658,000 in its vault and $757,000 in the bank.

According to the report's executive summary, field officers are responsible for taking possession of evidence or property, including currency, and logging the seizures in the records management system.

The Property Management Unit is tasked with "maintaining a complete, accurate, and documented chain-of-custody record of all property from receipt through release."

Multiple sets of books were kept to record cash receipts and bank transactions, auditors found.

So far, the report states, procedures have been updated to ensure currency is recounted upon receipt, sealed in tamper-proof bags and secured with video monitoring.

Record-keepers no longer have access to stored cash, it states.

Police executives have implemented other safeguards and promised to take further measures by June 30.

Most bank-deposited currency is released to the district attorney for asset-forfeiture purposes, but some is released to owners and unclaimed money is transferred to the general fund, the city's primary account for day-to-day expenses.

The report states original deposit or owner records for $232,066 are missing.

Auditors recommended the police department work with the Finance Department to transfer about $27,000 from the bank to the general fund and work with the city's lawyers "to determine the feasibility … of declaring the remaining $205,320" as unclaimed and transferring it to the general fund.

William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›

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