Pubdate: Tue, 16 Jan 2018
Source: Metro (Halifax, CN NS)
Copyright: 2018 Metro Canada
Author: Zane Woodford
Page: 4


No evidence to suggest items were stolen, force says

Thousands of dollars in cash, nearly 30 kilograms of marijuana and
three kilograms of cocaine are unaccounted for after an audit of
Halifax police drug exhibits, but the force said there's no evidence
to suggest its officers stole the missing evidence.

Halifax Regional Police Supt. Jim Perrin presented his final Drug
Exhibit Audit Report to the Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday,
the final step in a process that began in 2015 after allegations that
an officer had stolen from the evidence lockers.

The charges against that officer were dropped last year, but police
did a full inventory of their drug exhibits, and couldn't find
everything they were supposed to have.

At the beginning of the full inventory process, 271 Canadian cash
exhibits totalling $164,025.16 were missing. Of those, 37 are still
missing - $8,083.87.

There were 331 large drug exhibits missing, and 263 of those are still
missing, including 29.64 kg of marijuana, 1,882 marijuana plants, 2.91
kg of cocaine, and 5,441.5 opioid pills.

More than 2,000 smaller drug exhibits are still missing as

"At no time throughout this process do we believe that anything was
misappropriated by anybody," Perrin told reporters after his

"That being said, we couldn't physically account for some of these
items. We believe they were destroyed, but we can't conclusively say
that because of a variety of reasons, whether that's a box not being
checked on a computer screen or a copy of notes, or a report not being
included in a physical file."

Perrin said one court case was affected by the problems with drug
exhibit inventory: the Crown withdrew one of multiple charges against
a suspect after police couldn't find the drugs associated with the

Perrin cited a number of reasons for the problems, spanning 25 years:
sergeants weren't familiar with inventory systems; exhibits were moved
around without documentation; training was inconsistent and policy
wasn't followed; and exhibits were destroyed without proper Health
Canada-mandated documentation.

"Well-intended" supervisors would destroy drug exhibits to make room
for new ones, "hoping that the paperwork would catch up," Perrin said.
It did not.

Asked whether the destruction of evidence without proper documentation
was legal, Perrin said it was "certainly not in accordance with our

"I'm not going to make excuses for the decisions that people made to
proceed with destruction without paperwork," he said. "But certainly
we're going to have much more emphasis on that dayto-day quality
assurance piece to make sure this doesn't happen in the future."

The process has been a "learning opportunity," Perrin said, and he and
Chief Jeanmichel Blais said it's getting better.

"The process that we have going forward is very tight, very robust,"
Blais told the board.

Perrin said police acted as soon as they knew there were problems with
evidence. "We took this seriously, we take it seriously, we're not
happy with the results, but we're confident that we're going to be a
better police department as a result of it," he said.

Of the 34 recommendations that came from the audit, 30 have been
completed, three have been "completed in draft form," and one is
marked "ongoing."

Those completed include better, regular training for officers, no
longer using Ziploc bags for evidence storage, and having two people
count cash and drug exhibits.

An audit of an interest-bearing police bank account is still ongoing,
and no new deposits are being made. Though more than $8,000 can't be
reconciled with specific cases, Perrin said the balance is higher than
it should be. "If there's some good news, we actually have more money
than we should in the bank," he said.

With all the changes, Perrin said the inventory situation is already
improving, but he said he wants it to be "perfect."

"I think that should be our standard, that should be our goal," he
said. "But like I said earlier, we're people and people make mistakes
from time to time, but again, 100 per cent should be the target."
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