WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The city provided an update on the Wichita Police Department’s Property and Evidence section during Mayor Brandon Whipple’s weekly press briefing.
A third-party audit conducted last year raised concerns over possible missing or damaged evidence, including missing cash and possibly improperly stored sexual assault kits, among other problems. Former Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay reportedly raised concerns in 2020 over the Property and Evidence warehouse, which prompted the independent audit.
Acting Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston says that the audit had found sexual assault kits stored in a non-temperature controlled area of the warehouse were actually empty.
“I understand why that generated some concern. Assault case inventory will be completed at the end of this year and verified against our records management system, which is Niche,” said Livingston.
“The problem behind that is when the auditor came in, he said the boxes that were stored on the second floor, due to the heat that is up there, could be causing the evidence you wouldn’t be able to generate from, from those boxes,” said Kristina Rose, internal auditor for the City of Wichita. “What we determined is that when we went up there, all of the boxes that are up there, the evidence has already been generated.”
The samples had either been sent to the KBI Crime Lab or the Sedgwick County Forensics Science Center for testing.
“They have tags showing where they have been sent to, and all the evidence that gets generated gets put in the refrigerator,” Rose said.
Livingston and Rose said the count of the cash in the safe room has been completed. The money is connected to about 1,700 cases, has all been accounted for.
“The total discrepancy was due to human error. Sometimes people don’t count correctly. The error rate was .046, less than half percent,” according to Livingston.
Three hundred fifty-two cases involving unclaimed money have also been accounted for so far in the audit. The funds, which total around $55,000, will be deposited into the Police Benefit Fund per KSA 13-14a02. Under that statute, unclaimed and seized funds must be placed into the state pension to pay for Wichita Police officers’ retirement funds.
Livingston said a routine schedule for safe room audits will occur twice per year.
Rose says they are now working on guns, which will take approximately four weeks to inventory.
“Based on the guns we have done so far, there is nothing missing there,” Rose said.
“They will review those guns held as evidence and compare that to our records management system to make sure we are doing the correct thing with Niche in what we are putting into property and evidence,” Livingston said.
The review is a long way from being over. It will take about a year to get through the facility and purge old evidence.
When asked about the third-party audit, Rose said she knows what is missing.
“I know what is missing in each of those sections, and that is what I am going to focus on when I get to that section. We need to compartmentalize and move through it that way.”
KSN News asked incoming WPD Police Chief Joe Sullivan his thoughts on the progress so far.
“I will say that I am very happy to see the preliminary results of the audit since it appears all evidence has been accounted for thus far. I am monitoring the situation closely, and I will continue to do so until the full audit is completed. I have scheduled a personal tour of the facility and a full briefing and update for tomorrow.”