4 minute read

The property room of the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) is missing $27,000 in cash a City Auditor’s report shows.

The report went up on the City of Oklahoma City’s website Tuesday concluding an involved investigation of property room procedures at OCPD.

Missing currency

Departmental leadership grew concerned about “allegations of unaccounted for OCPD Property Management Unit currency” and requested an audit from the City Auditor’s office working with the OCPD Office of Professional Standards.

The audit says that the missing currency was “…detected during a Property Management Unit (PMU) count of onsite currency envelopes.”

Oklahoma City Chief of Police Wade Gourley. (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

“…PMU also detected additional unaccounted for currency reportedly released to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s (D.A.’s) Office,” the report read.

OCPD requested that recommendations be included about how to tighten the property room’s accounting and procedures.

“We asked for the audit and want to show full transparency,” Public Information Officer Capt. Larry Withrow told Free Press on Friday.

Chief of Police Wade Gourley agreed to all 18 recommended changes in the audit report. Many have already been achieved and the rest are on track to be completed by June 30.

Unaccounted for currency

The currency that auditors should have been able to locate was not found.

“Our investigation substantiated unaccounted for onsite currency envelopes totaling $10,775 (of $513,418) as of November 2, 2018, and missing support for certain onsite currency releases totaling $16,296 (of $99,395) between May 15, 2003 and November 2, 2018,” the audit read.

In and interview with Free Press, City Auditor Jim Williamson confirmed that the language “unaccounted for” meant that they could not find the money.

Williamson explained that the $10,775 was currency that they should have found in currency envelopes and could not and the $16,296 was currency that was lost in transfers between OCPD and the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney’s office

The currency lost in transfers between the DA’s office and OCPD had shown signs of activity on both ends of the transaction, but a series of signature procedures were not followed that allowed for any kind of adequate tracing of what happened to the money once it left the OCPD property room to the DA or from the DA back to OCPD property room.

“So, that was a number of different cases,” explained Williamson. “…the DA records indicated that they had them [the currency envelopes] but that they had returned them to us. So, it wasn’t like there was no record at all for any of them.”

He made clear that the DA’s office was not a part of the purview of the audit and was not being evaluated in it.

“But, the onus is on the police department here,” Williamson told us. “Because they are the last ones that we can confirm had possession of the money.”

Lax procedures

The report points to procedures that allowed for large sums of property room money to be held in property room accounts for long periods of time instead of being transferred to the city’s general fund under the control of the City Treasurer’s office.

Also, procedures were not followed to make sure property that should have been returned to its rightful owner ever was actually returned.

Problems with not enough separation between those who kept records and those who handled currency, “…could result in the loss, theft, or misuse of additional onsite currency and a manipulation of records to prevent its detection,” the report warned.

Also, a problem with allowing “record deletion” by those who were responsible for “onsite currency oversight and physical access,” was cited.

Recommended changes

The audit report contains 18 comments related to problems in the system at the time of the audit with corresponding procedure recommendations to each.

Some of the changes recommended had already been put in place even as the audit began. Others were made immediately as auditors made recommendations in the audit process.

Gourley committed to have the remainder of the recommendations completed by the end of this fiscal year, June 30th.

Executive summary

The executive summary shows six general areas of of concern addressed in the report:

  • Currency access, record-keeping, and oversight responsibilities should be separated to minimize the risk of currency loss, theft, or misuse.
  • Additional oversight should be performed to verify the completeness of currency records and the validity of releases.
  • The various currency systems’ records and reporting should be improved. If feasible, the Record Management System should be used as the sole system for currency recording and reporting.
  • Currency disposition procedures, record-keeping, and reporting should be improved to ensure more timely dispositions and related reductions of accumulating currency balances.
  • Communication with the Finance Department and the Municipal Counselor’s Office should be continued to transfer $26,746 of unclaimed property currency to the General Fund and to resolve additional General Fund transfers potentially up to $296,320.
  • Owner notification record-keeping and reporting should be improved to facilitate effective and efficient compliance with owner notification requirements.

To study all 18 comments and recommendations see the embedded audit report below.

OCPDPMUInvestigationReport


Sustain our journalism by becoming a supporter

Oklahoma City Free Press is dedicated to providing high quality journalism that positively impacts our community. Click this link or the red button below to support our mission.