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Audit finds St. Louis police ‘inappropriately’ used funds

An audit report issued today on the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners indicates that there was mismanagement of police department funds.

The audit report issued by State Auditor Susan Montee examined the operations of the Board of Police Commissioners for the fiscal year of July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. The board controls the operations of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Among the findings of the report:

– The department “inappropriately” spent over $188,000 in seized Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act monies for various operating expenses.

– The board failed to monitor the vehicle towing operations of its contractor, St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, allowing it to underpay towing fees of $453,509 to the police department and the city.

– As of February 2009, cash of approximately $24,000 in custody of the Property Custody Unit was missing, mislabeled, or misplaced. And the PCU does not have adequate controls to track evidence released to other agencies.

– $2,976 in purchases made on credit cards issued to personnel were made at clothing and department stores, local restaurants and ticket venues. There was no documentation to indicate these purchases were business-related, the audit said.

– The department accepted season tickets from the Cardinals in 2008 as well as in previous years, which may be a violation of state law, the audit said. Season tickets were provided to the department for at least seven years. The report estimated that the value of the 2008 tickets was $19,000.

In response to Montee’s audit report, Police Chief Dan Isom in a statement said the department is making changes to its policies.

“It’s clear to every one of us that many of the problems we’ve experienced over the past year and a half were caused by complete breakdowns in procedures,” he said. “There was a lack of oversight and a lack of accountability. Those days are over.”