Grand Jury: Truckee PD doing adequate job of handling evidence
June 20, 2016
NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Last week, the Nevada County Civil Grand Jury issued a report examining how local law enforcement agencies collect and retain evidence.
Notably, the grand jury found that the property unit of the Nevada County Sheriff's Office has not been subject to an external audit since 2007 — and there are no written records of any internal audits, inventories or investigations since that time.
"The Nevada County Sheriff's Office is out of compliance with its own written policies and procedures, and with best practices concerning audits and inventories," the report stated.
The grand jury also critiqued the Sheriff's Office for its out-of-date written policies and procedures.
According to the grand jury report, the only written policies in place are a property and evidence manual dated 2008, which apparently is not used. A property unit technician reportedly has been creating a desk manual but that remains incomplete after three years.
In a June 13 interview, Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Pettitt said that he had not yet had the opportunity to review the findings and recommendations, and was not able to issue a response yet.
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The grand jury report examined evidence handling at all four county law enforcement agencies — the Sheriff's Office, and Grass Valley, Nevada City and Truckee police departments.
All four departments had enough space and proper supplies, and all were adequately staffed, the report concluded.
The process for purging evidence was found to be appropriate for all agencies, although it was noted there was a concern regarding the timeliness of receiving authorization to dispose of evidence by the District Attorney's Office. The DA recently had declared a new policy to speed up that process, the report noted.
The Sheriff's Office was found to be "distressingly" overdue on an external audit, while Nevada City — whose last audit was in 2013 — was considered overdue.
For Truckee, the last audit was conducted in 2012 when Chief Adam McGill assumed command, "so a new biennial audit is due," according to the grand jury.
Most of the grand jury's recommendations dealt with the Sheriff's Office — including the adoption of written policies and procedures, an immediate external audit, a complete inventory upon the pending retirement of its senior evidence technician, and periodic spot inventories with a written record.
Those recommendations, as well as a recommendation that the DA's office continue to develop and improve its process for authorizing the disposal of evidence, requested a response by Aug. 15.
Other recommendations to Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee —including ensuring random spot inventories are performed and documented; and that inventories of firearms, narcotics and money must be conducted on at least a quarterly basis — requested a response by Sept. 13.
Liz Kellar is a reporter with The Union newspaper, based in Nevada City and Grass Valley. Sierra Sun Managing Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.