Pubdate: Tue, 28 Feb 2017
Source: Cape Breton Post (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Cape Breton Post
Author: Keith Doucette
Page: A5


Bad record keeping to blame for some 3,000 missing items according to

Halifax police are adamant that bad record keeping rather than any
criminal activity by its officers was behind the "misplacement'' of
3,000 of nearly 10,000 drug-related exhibits uncovered in a recent

Among the unaccounted for items were cocaine and other drugs, and more
than 200 cash items totalling $100,000.

Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais told reporters Monday the force was
confident there had been no wrongdoing.

"We're very confident that our officers did not do anything
untoward,'' said Blais. "What we are looking at and what we have
determined is that there are some gaps in our process and in our
policy and in the way that we did things.''

Blais released the overall inventory numbers during an appearance
before the city's board of police commissioners, during which he also
gave an update on a drug exhibit audit released last June.

He said a physical inventory was conducted on 9,792 exhibits from
Sept. 16 to Feb. 17.

"The findings were ... that electronic documentation and quality
assurance were lacking,'' Blais told the commissioners.

He also blamed a lack of standardized officer training and the
amalgamation in the mid 90s of three police forces for the lax

Blais said searches of records systems are ongoing for the missing
items and while some had been found, he didn't know at this point
exactly how many.

But a handout given to commissioners showed police had located 123 of
the cash items totalling $72,464 as of Monday. There were no misplaced
firearms, although a mini stun gun was still unaccounted for.

The various drugs unaccounted for included 1,540 marijuana plants,
more than 1,300 grams of cocaine and opiods including hydromorphone,
morphine, Valium and 100 millilitres of methadone.

Police said 34 of 72 missing exhibits in the original audit had been
located, while it's believed that 32 of the remaining 38 items were
destroyed. The remaining six cash exhibits totalling $4,956 were
believed to have been deposited in the special enforcement section's
bank account.

"The review team found no evidence to suggest exhibits were
misappropriated, however this conclusion is not definitive,'' the
report states.

It said progress had been made on the 34 recommendations made by last
year's audit in areas such as adherence to policy and procedure and

Blais said the force would have to wait to see if council would
approve the hiring of a custodian to oversee the drug exhibit inventory.

He said the presence of three other custodians to oversee non-drug
related exhibits was the primary reason police are sure there aren't
similar problems.

"Their processes are very, very tight,'' Blais said.

Police commission chairman Steve Craig said he was satisfied with what
he heard from Blais when it came to determining what had happened to
some of the exhibits.

"I'm not getting any indication that there's anything overtly
underhanded or criminal activity associated with that,'' Craig told
reporters. "Things do go missing and the fact of the matter is we need
to have an ongoing look at that.''

But Craig expressed concern that the audit process would take too long
to complete.

Blais wasn't specific, but said the process would likely take the
"next few years'' to complete.
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