Dothan's police chief is making some changes in light of a recent audit conducted within the department. The audit found more than 150 firearms missing from the evidence room; it also found that officers had in fact checked them out for personal use.
The first thing that Chief John Powell is doing, is putting the evidence room at the Dothan Police Department in the hands and care of two civilians.
He says he believes this will gain the department the publics trust, once again.
"We're taking steps to make sure that we instill the policy and procedures that are needed, to give the public the confidence in the police department, to make sure we do everything like we should,” said Chief Powell.
The recent audit shows that about 170 guns from the department's evidence room were nowhere to be found.
Under Alabama law, confiscated firearms can be used by officers for law enforcement purposes, but in this case, some officers were taking them home for personal use.
"Some of the officers extended it beyond that and used it for personal purposes beyond that, like hunting would be a good example,” said Chief Powell.
Although Chief Powell wants to prevent that from happening again, so he is entrusting the care of evidence to two civilian employees, who will be on call 24/7.
Along with the two new civilians working in evidence room, the way evidence is handled will also change. For example, until now guns were usually handed in like this with a tag hanging off of them; but now, when guns will be turned in using a different procedure.
Crime Scene Technician Jon Thomas said, “Now the evidence is turned in, in a box with the case number on the box, along with a PD 99, which is an evidence receipt. It has the guns serial number on it."
The gun or piece of evidence will be strapped to the inside of the box. Police officers will also be barred from entering the evidence room.
"Nobody's allowed pass that door right there... no officers... the only two people allowed re the two civilian employees," said Thomas.
The only reason a firearm would come out of the room is if it is to be used in court.
Chief Powell says he believes the department is on the right track to correcting the situation.
This audit did analyze the department's practices for the past 15 years, and so far 102 firearms have been returned.
Chief Powell also says that he plans to hire more crime scene technicians in the future.
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