Ormond Beach, FL – An evidence custodian with the Ormond Beach Police Department (OBPD) was fired for allegedly mismanaging evidence and training others to improperly dispose of items in the evidence room.
An investigation began last September after an audit was conducted of evidence that was scheduled to be destroyed. An envelope inside one of the evidence boxes was found tampered with, and some pain pills were missing, according to OBPD. Marylyn Dance was the evidence custodian at the time, and she was tasked with training others on how to handle and log evidence in the room.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was contacted, and a complete inventory of the evidence room was conducted. 185 items of evidence had some type of discrepancy in their records, and more than 100 items were unaccounted for, according to an Internal Affairs Report. The FDLE investigation lasted several months, and there was determined to be no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. OBPD continues to audit the evidence room.
“When we checked the items that were missing, not one of them had to do with any cases that were pending,” says Officer Keith Walker, Training Coordinator with OBPD. “These were all cases that were either cleared or dismissed or (had) found property that was disseminated, so it didn’t jeopardize any ongoing cases that were in the court system.”
Crime Scene Technician Victoria Lancaster and a part-time evidence custodian, Robert Ott, were required to undergo counseling for failure to report Dance’s violations of the department’s policy.
“We cannot prove that there was any theft here, and a lot of this looks as if it was sloppy housekeeping,” Walker explains. “A lot of it comes down to poor management or sloppy data entry.” Walker says that Dance was fired within the past month.
OBPD has recently added extra safeguards to help ensure the proper handling of evidence. Cameras have been added to the evidence room, and destruction protocol now requires four people and a supervisor to sign off for destroying evidence, as opposed to only two people signing off.
Photo courtesy Barone’s Law Enforcement Photography and Flickr.com.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.