Internal Audit Prompts Policy Changes
Chief Ken Burton recently ordered an internal audit of firearms in the possession of the Columbia Police Department. Two sergeants and one officer were temporarily reassigned to conduct the audit, which took approximately one month to complete. This involved conducting an inventory and confirmation of every weapon and its corresponding serial number. The department currently owns approximately 250 firearms.
The results of the audit revealed opportunities for the department to better manage the Armory and Property Room:
- Weapons with no identifiable owner were being converted to department use without obtaining a judge's order awarding the weapons to the department
- Weapons which were slated to be destroyed were converted to department use without obtaining a judge's order
- A shotgun recovered in 2005 was converted to department use, but discovered during the audit to be stolen from a burglary in Boone County. The gun was returned to the owner.
- Of the approximately 250 weapons owned by the department, two shotguns and one shotgun barrel are unaccounted for. These discrepancies are currently under investigation.
At the conclusion of the audit new policies were put in place requiring the approval of the Chief of Police for permission to request for the conversion of any item in the Property Room to department use. Once approval is obtained from the Chief, the proper paperwork will then be submitted to the appropriate court requesting the property be awarded to the department. The property will not leave the Property Unit until both requirements (Chief's approval and judge's order) have been met.
Access to all department owned weapons has also been restricted. Under the new policy only the Deputy Chief of Police and personnel approved by him will be able to access the Armory directly.
The department is in the process of contracting with an outside vendor to conduct a complete audit of the Property Room, including all department owned firearms, in order to determine any additional policies or procedures that need to be changed or implemented in order to meet best practices.
Sergeant Jill Wieneke
(573) 817-5047 office
(573) 777-2575 cell