Ingham County Sheriff discusses internal audit of evidence room issues

Posted at 11:31 AM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 11:31:19-04

It was a sewage leak in the fall of 2016 which exposed the level of "disarray" the evidence room at the Ingham County Sheriff's Department was in.

For several years the evidence room was mismanaged, leading to inadequate evidence tracking.

"To say the process was flawed and inadequate is an understatement," said Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth of the Ingham County Sheriff's Department.

In a press conference Friday morning, Wriggelsworth discussed the results of the internal audit of issues within the evidence room.

The audit revealed 1,758 cases were improperly tracked from start to finish. Evidence for those cases had either been missing, poorly tracked, or destroyed. According to the sheriff, a majority of the cases were not prosecutable cases.

79 active cases have now been dismissed due to missing evidence.

Four guns are missing from the evidence room, Wriggelsworth cites due to poor record keeping. 17 cases of the effected cases involve seized money, adding up to a total of $398. 541 cases involved drugs were also effected.

Wriggelsworth sites high turnover, poor training, lack of proper documentation and space, and staff not paying attention to detail in the evidence room which had led to mismanagement.

"In my opinion the one reason the evidence room turned into a huge mess was some people didn't care and they went unchecked for years," said Wriggelsworth.

While the sheriff addressed what went wrong, Wriggelsworth also discussed how the evidence room is going to be handled in the future.

The quartermaster position will no longer be held by a law enforcement officer. Wriggelsworth says a new quartermaster is expected to be hired by June from outside the department and will be dedicated to tracking evidence from start to finish.

Monthly audits will now be conducted on every piece of evidence to ensure it's properly being tracked by multiple individuals. An audit will also be conducted when there is a change in quartermaster.

"To my knowledge, this has never been done at the sheriff's office before," said Wriggelsworth.

Audit results will be reported to the sheriff, along with random audits to be conducted by the Ingham County Prosecutors Office.

The Ingham County Sheriff's Department will also work closely with the 55th Distrct Court and the Ingham County Prosecutors Office to determine new policies and when evidence can be disposed of.

Michigan State Police continue with their criminal investigation into the evidence room which is expected to be released within a few weeks.