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Audit says Watertown Police Department misplaced seized drugs, firearms and vehicles

Watertown, NY official website

An audit released Tuesday by the State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli found the Watertown police department lost track of confiscated drugs, weapons, and two vehicles.

The report indicated the actual location of these items did not match up with inventory records. Forty-four drug items such as bags of marijuana, pills, and cocaine, were missing. Only nine have been accounted for. Most of the seized drugs in inventory did not have proper documentation.

A spokesperson for the comptroller Brian Butry said this should be a wake-up call for police departments across the state to follow proper procedures.

“When these law enforcement agencies seize guns and drugs they have a duty to make sure these dangerous items are safe guarded and destroyed so they don’t make it back on the street, and these items are also integral to criminal cases,” Butry said.

The Watertown Police Department said they are complying with the comptroller's recommendations. Lieutenant Joseph Donoghue said he expects the department’s recent switch to an electronic tracking system will prevent more errors.

“With the other supervisors we are all going to go over the rules and recommendations from the State, and Chief [Charles] Donoghue will want a better report next time,” he said.

The Comptroller reviewed records of nine other police departments — in Herkimer and Madison counties, the cities of Auburn, Elmira, Troy the towns of Hamburg, Irondequoit, and Newburgh, and the Village of Johnson City — and found similar problems with record-keeping.