New Smyrna Beach police audit reveals missing evidence

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NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. - A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation shows the New Smyrna Beach Police Department wasn't keeping accurate records of evidence, including money, drugs and even guns, for years.

All of it was uncovered almost by accident.

New Smyrna Beach PD Sgt. Eugene Griffith said some of the officers discovered some bags had been tampered with.

"There was possibly some money missing," Griffith said.

It's not comforting to residents.

"It doesn't make me feel real safe on the street," said New Smyrna Beach resident Roy McGuire.

Police said $1,200 could not be accounted for, prompting a full investigation and audit.

The audit revealed some shocking practices.

A 32-page report revealed red flags, like: "Numerous people had access to the evidence and property management section ... light-duty police officers, volunteers, and juvenile offenders."

Evidence was even kept in a processing room where prisoners would be.

A lot of the problems were due to the dilapidated building police used to be in.

"We were out of space, so some of our evidence wasn't being stored properly," Griffith said.

Police were even using a woodshed for some evidence.

Sometimes evidence was put in plastic tote bins with no locking mechanism, according to the report.

The only record of some of the evidence checked out was on a legal pad, which was never found.

High-ranking officials may have already known there were problems.

An employee said in the report a lieutenant and commander told her they could not do an audit, “because they did not know where half the stuff was.”

Since the investigation, the sergeant said the department has done a top-to-bottom audit of all the evidence.

The sergeant said everything is accounted for, and if a piece of evidence is ever missing again, it will be discovered much sooner.