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Sources: FDLE Audit Finds Guns, Money Missing From Sweetwater PD

BYLINE: Lauren Pastrana

Sources: FDLE Audit Finds Guns, Money Missing From Sweetwater PD
August 18, 2015

Sweetwater, FL

SWEETWATER (CBSMiami) – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has wrapped up its audit of the Sweetwater Police Department.

Some findings of that probe are expected to be made public at a press conference Wednesday.

But CBS4 has learned the report is roughly 300 pages long and cites thousands of violations within the department.

Currently, if police officers in Sweetwater need to submit property or evidence for a case, they can’t do it at the police department.

“Our property room will remain sealed until the point where I can provide the proper accountable property room with the correct processes in place,” Interim Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz said.

Chief Diaz said the city is utilizing the Miami-Dade Police Department’s property room, because Sweetwater’s was a mess.

“There’s property missing. Firearms that’s missing. Money that’s missing,” Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana. “It’s a substantial slap in the face that where everybody was saying the police department was running correctly and professionally, it wasn’t.”

Those items are missing from the primary property room.

CBS4 was the first to report back in October 2013 of a secret property room in the city, containing boxes full of seized, uncatalogued property taken from people arrested in Sweetwater.

In June, Mayor Orlando Lopez asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to audit the police department to see whether records and property were mishandled.

“At the very beginning we thought that they were only going to be here about 3 days. It turned out they were actually here for a month and a half and they had a maximum of four people in here as well,” Mayor Lopez said.

Sources tell CBS4 at least 19 guns are missing from the property room.

There’s also money that’s unaccounted for.

“If there were a thousand dollars in an envelope, and then when they came by, they didn’t find a single cent, that’s criminal,” Vice Mayor Jose M. Diaz said.

Vice Mayor Diaz, who used to be mayor, said the issues pre-date his administration and the current interim chief’s time in the position.

In all, sources say close to 8,000 violations were documented.

When asked if there would be arrests as a result of the audit, Vice Mayor Diaz responded, “Most likely yes.”

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