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Auditor Logo Susan Montee

Report No. 2009-123
November 2009

Complete Audit Report

The following findings were included in our audit report on the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners.

The St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners (SLBPC) controls the operations of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (department). At June 30, 2008, the department held over $4 million seized under the Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act (CAFA). It appears the department could dispose of these monies on a more timely basis, and the department had not properly identified the owners of approximately $591,000. The department inappropriately spent over $188,000 in seized CAFA monies for various operating expenses. The department subsequently reimbursed $188,000 to the CAFA Account from the Board Secretary's Account. Over $4,100 in prisoner cash and property became missing while in police department custody during the 2 years ended June 30, 2008. The department investigated the missing monies and concluded the police department was responsible for the loss.

The SLBPC failed to adequately monitor the vehicle towing operations of a contractor which allowed the contractor to underpay towing fees totaling $453,509 to the police department and City of St. Louis. The department has filed a lawsuit to recover the amount underpaid and this matter is subject to ongoing criminal investigation. The department did not adequately monitor the status of towed vehicles or ensure complete and accurate information was recorded for all towed vehicles. Until 2008, the towing contract allowed the department to utilize up to five abandoned vehicles in the custody of the towing contractor. Limitations on the use of the vehicles were not included in the contracts and the lack of policies and procedures or specific contract stipulations give the appearance vehicles may have been available for inappropriate or personal use.

Improvements are needed in procedures and controls over evidentiary property stored in the Property Custody Unit (PCU). As of February 2009, cash of approximately $24,000 in custody of the PCU was missing, mislabeled, or misplaced. The PCU currently has a large number of weapons and old evidence stored in its property room which the department determined has no value and should be destroyed. The PCU does not have adequate controls to track evidence released to other agencies.

Proceeds from Fitness Center memberships and merchandise sales totaling at least $1,162 were received during the period July 1, 2007 through January 8, 2009, but were not transmitted to the City Treasurer. This amount included both cash and checks recorded as received by the Fitness Center but not transmitted.

Approximately $133,000 in severance wages and benefits were approved for two department officials (Public Information Officer and Chief of Police). In addition, the Board agreed to pay all legal fees for the former Chief of Police related to official duties performed during his employment. It is not clear whether the Board was obligated to provide compensation to the outgoing employees or whether severance payments were justified.

Department practices allowed terminated or retired employees to accrue unreasonable vacation and sick leave benefits during their final month of employment. If the last day of service was the first day of the month, the employee accrued an entire month of leave, and that leave was paid out as unused leave upon termination or retirement. In addition, employees are allowed to take leave on their last days of service, which could extend their term of service into a new month and allow additional leave accrual. The department's current and previous payroll and timekeeping systems allowed for employees to record and be compensated for unearned overtime. Since June 2008, it appears the department paid as much as $16,000 for unearned overtime.

Based on a review of 38 purchasing card expenditures, several concerns were noted. Purchases totaling $2,976, were made at clothing and department stores, local restaurants, and ticket venues. There was no documentation to indicate these purchases were business related, and these purchases appear to be personal in nature. The majority of the purchases were made by the former Police Chief. Neither the Board nor department employees reviewed supporting documentation for the former Police Chief's purchasing card expenditures. In addition, purchasing cards were used to purchase items available under existing SLBPC contracts or bids, thus circumventing normal purchasing procedures. Department employees incurred travel expenses to various conferences and events that did not appear reasonable and necessary. The department spent $10,141 between June 2007 and May 2008 on food purchases from local restaurants and catering companies for various events and the business purpose was not documented. The department purchased two hand-crafted gold badges for the former Chief of Police at a cost of approximately $6,000 each, and upon his retirement in July 2008, he kept one of the badges. In 2008, the department purchased 5 gold-plated hand crafted badges costing $1,987 each, one for the current Chief of Police, two for lieutenant colonels, and two for assistant chiefs.

The department accepted season tickets from the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team in 2008 and previous years which may be a violation of state law. The season tickets were provided to the department for at least 7 years without payment to the baseball team. Based on the value of season tickets in a similar location in the stadium, the approximate value of the tickets in 2008 was $19,000.

Other findings in the audit report relate to receipt accounting controls and procedures, purchasing and bidding policies, capital assets, vehicle usage, budgetary practices, bank accounts and investments, and traffic tickets.

Complete Audit Report
Missouri State Auditor's Office