HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Vault Changes Slow To Be Put In Place
Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jul 2017
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Windsor Star
Contact:  http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/501
Author: Sarah Sacheli
Page: A3

DRUG VAULT CHANGES SLOW TO BE PUT IN PLACE

New cameras come 18 months after cocaine was lost

Despite losing $25,000 worth of cocaine, it took the Windsor Police
Service 1 1/2 years to install a new camera system in its drug vault,
internal documents obtained by the Windsor Star show.

"This is a long overdue step," reads one of the documents, an internal
memo from 2015 with the names of the author and recipient redacted.

The Windsor Star filed a request on April 3 under the Municipal
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for documents
relating to nine ounces of cocaine seized in 2013 and later found to
be missing from the secure vault. The fact of the missing cocaine
became public only earlier this year when the case went to trial and
police had no drug evidence to bring to court.

The drugs were seized during the arrest of a Windsor man, Miles
Patrick Meraw, 31, on Aug. 21, 2013. According to the internal police
reports, the cocaine was secured in the drug vault the next day and
became known as Exhibit 13-246. According to the reports, the exhibit
was subsequently discovered to be missing on Oct. 30, 2013.

What prompted the discovery, the documents say, was the arrival of a
drug analysis report from Health Canada. An officer opened the report
and took it to the drug vault to append it to the corresponding
exhibit. "Exhibit 13-246 was missing from its designated storage
space," an internal report says.

The report, dated Dec. 2, 2013, is entitled, Exhibit 13-246 /
Whereabouts Unknown.

The drug vault was searched twice. On Nov. 5 and Nov. 6, 2013, two
officers took inventory of all the items in the vault - 213 bins full
of items.

Access to the drug vault is controlled by a proximity card, the report
states. The author says he or she and another officer checked the
cardholder access records and watched what surveillance video was available.

The report notes three "anomalies" found by comparing the video with
the cardholder access report.

In one case, an officer's card was used to access the drug vault, but
there's no video of him entering the room. The lack of video might
have something to do with the light switch, the author notes. "It is
unknown if the surveillance video runs continuously, or if it is
activated when the light is activated and/or motion is detected."

Another anomaly involved the author of the report entering the drug
vault seven times in one day. The entries were reflected in the
cardholder access report, but there was no video on that day. The lack
of video might be due to a power outage, the author notes.

The report notes that drugs had been removed from the drug vault for
disposal after the missing cocaine had been placed there. "I am
compelled to consider that it may have been disposed of during a
disposal process," the report concludes. The report chalks up the
error to a "momentary lapse of focus."

The drug vault is accessed through another room. There was a
surveillance camera in that room, but not in the drug vault itself.
Furthermore, the report states, "The view is limited and partially
obstructed."

Internal emails show the security deficiencies were addressed in April
2015 when police installed new video surveillance equipment in the
drug vault. The new equipment included a 13-channel HD video
surveillance system with 13 cameras.

The system cost $2,000 and was installed by two constables in the
criminal investigation division.
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