Weber Sheriff: Policy, procedures put in place to prevent future evidence tampering

The auditors found 110 pieces of evidence that had been tampered with

August 24, 2018

In January 2018, it was discovered that a civilian member of the Sheriff's Office had violated the trust that you, the public, have given and expect. This particular employee had been a member of this office for 16 years and was assigned to a critical position within the office as the evidence room manager.

Upon learning of the egregious behavior, the employee was immediately placed on administrative leave, and all access the employee had to the evidence room and the Sheriff's Office was removed. The employee was given due process in accordance with state and federal laws and ultimately, her employment was terminated.

As your Sheriff, I immediately ordered a full investigation. I personally met with Weber County Attorney Chris Allred and the investigation was initiated using an outside criminal investigator and a senior internal investigator within the Weber County Sheriff's Office.

Additionally, I ordered a full and complete audit of the entire evidence room, to include all evidence within. An Evidence Audit Team was created that included seasoned criminal investigators, a crime scene supervisor, an outside criminal investigator, a records manager and a senior internal investigator. This hand-selected group of auditors has over 70 years of combined experience dealing with investigations and evidence preservation.

Strict protocols and procedures were put into place that were developed after researching similar cases across the country. The procedures were reviewed and approved by attorneys from the Weber County Attorney's Office and included a personal inspection of all evidence within the evidence room, documentation of any discrepancies and strict record keeping. These procedures were put into place to ensure the integrity of any evidence that will be used in criminal cases. To date, over 4,500 pieces of evidence have been audited. The auditors found 110 pieces of evidence that had been tampered with. Of those cases, the auditors have referred 44 cases for criminal charges. All 110 pieces of tampered evidence have been isolated, and the Weber County Attorney's Office is aware of all of these cases.

In addition to the evidence room audit, security cameras have been installed that record all activities in the evidence room. The newly selected Evidence Custodian and the Investigations Commander who supervises the evidence room have attended a nationally recognized evidence training and certification course. A bar code scanning system that will track all items placed into evidence from the moment the evidence enters the room until it is disposed of is being reviewed. A secure, locked area in a separate building has been implemented to store narcotic evidence that is being disposed of. The evidence custodian's office is now located outside of the evidence room to allow for better supervision, and a part-time employee has been assigned to evidence to assist with the workload. Policies and procedures have been improved and updated, to include improved tracking and disposal of narcotic evidence and implementation of an operations manual, and a schedule for annual audits that will be adhered to.

This incident has been reviewed in detail. Policy, procedure, process, and accompanying resolutions to ensure that it will not be repeated have been enacted. Each of the actions listed above will help restore and maintain the integrity of the Weber County Sheriff's Office property and evidence room in the future.

Eight years ago I promised you that as your Sheriff the Weber County Sheriff's Office would be led with honesty, trust and integrity. This case has violated that trust. The public can rest assured that all staff who contributed to that loss of trust have been provided due process and appropriately dealt with. As I have said repeatedly since this loss of public trust first came to my attention; all behavior of staff within the Weber County Sheriff's Office is my responsibility and I fully accept that responsibility.

I am confident that my successor has the tools and staff in place to be successful in serving Weber County residents with honesty, trust and fidelity.

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