E-mails: Broomfield looks for 'leaker,' blames media

9 Wants to Know, www.9news.com
BYLINE: Deborah.Sherman, .
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Broomfield, CO

2011-02-18_INT_E-mails Broomfield looks for leaker_01BROOMFIELD - E-mails from Broomfield's police chief and city council members show they're blaming the media for reporting about their problems and trying to find and punish the person who leaked memos about lost evidence and years of mismanagement inside the property and evidence room. The e-mails also show the chief took steps to address the problems only after 9Wants to Know questioned him about the missing items.

"I certainly hope you are able to discover who had access to internal memos and who leaked them to press and that appropriate action can be taken," City Councilwoman Linda Reynolds wrote on Feb. 8 to Police Chief Tom Deland. "I want you to know that personally I have all the confidence in you and your department and that this distortion is trash news."

"I have no idea why one of our own would bring discredit upon all the hard working and brave members of our department," Deland wrote in an e-mail Feb. to all police officers.

2011-02-18_INT_E-mails Broomfield looks for leaker_02City Manager George Di Ciero told 9NEWS on Feb. 16 that it's not city policy to look for the people who released the audit to 9NEWS.

However, in an e-mail to the city council, Deland wrote, "At this time, it is unknown exactly how 9NEWS obtained a copy of the confidential internal audit. If that information is eventually obtained, appropriate action will be taken."

Earlier this month, a 9Wants to Know investigation released the results of internal memos and an audit that found there were 15,000 pieces of old evidence that could be destroyed, there were several hundred data entry errors for tracking evidence and property, and that there were 257 pieces of evidence missing or unable to locate.

The auditor found the accountability for the evidence was unacceptable and found a "pattern of problems" in the room. Experts told 9NEWS evidence must be handled with care to maintain a "chain of custody" for court cases.

Personnel records show the two evidence technicians in charge of the room had repeatedly been ranked "proficient" or average or "below-standard" in areas critical to management and organization. Yet, the chief kept them in their current positions without any disciplinary action.

E-mails show the chief made several changes only after he realized the story was going to be broadcast on 9NEWS.

After interviews with 9NEWS, "Chief Deland reassigned a sergeant on a full-time basis to work in the property and evidence room and observe and monitor the procedures," Di Ciero wrote to the city council. "Chief Deland also requested the city's newly appointed director of performance and internal audit to conduct a process audit of the property room."

The chief initiated performance evaluations and improvement measures and contacted the 17th Judicial District Attorney about the missing evidence after learning about the 9NEWS investigation, according to the e-mails.

Two audits of the evidence and property room were launched after the news coverage. One audit is an overall audit conducted by the city's independent auditors who will report to the mayor and city council. The second audit will be conducted by the city and county's internal auditor and will be reported to the manager.

The manager was very critical of the media for broadcasting the city's problems, according to e-mails.

"Here is a classic example of "if it bleeds, it leads," Di Ciero wrote on Feb. 6. "This must really be a down time for real news, so they want to create some. This is patently disgusting."

Of the missing items, the police chief says 93 are still missing and 162 of them have been accounted for, according to Deland.

He says 45 items were found in the room which had been misplaced in one of the storage areas. 117 items were accounted for by reviewing handwritten logs that documented the proper disposition of the property. Of the 93 items still missing, the chief says he suspects data entry mistakes are to blame and says personnel are still trying to track down the items.

Of the mismanaged evidence, 45 items belonged to felony cases and 29 were misdemeanor or traffic cases, according to the 17th Judicial District office. No criminal case outcomes were impacted as a result of the destroyed or missing evidence.

If you have any news tips or story ideas, please e-mail Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman at .

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