Problems found with cop drug storage

Tue, October 5, 2004

An internal probe of the Ottawa police narcotics repository has revealed problems in the way some Ottawa officers follow procedures for the storage of seized drugs. The problems, seen in a small number of incidents, were found by police as they prepared for a major inspection by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Police Insp. Terry Cheslock said the problems had been dealt with.

"There were supervisory issues that were identified and we've addressed them," said Cheslock. "There's nothing untoward there."

Cheslock said that in some instances there was a "failure to comply" with some rules.

The drug repository, where all seized drugs are stored, receives thousands of exhibits every year. It has also moved to a new building in the east end during which all procedures were examined, he said.

Police regularly audit the drug squad to account for cash used to pay informants and buy drugs during investigations, but Cheslock could not recall a full audit of the narcotics themselves.

Cheslock is in charge of preparing the force for the inspection by the ministry's quality assurance section.

A similar audit was done in 2001 and the local service passed, he said.


"As an organization, we're very healthy," he said. "This is basically a matter of reviewing practices to make sure everyone's current."

The inspections include a review of police dispatch services, whether officers are following established policies regarding sexual assault, criminal investigation management and the handling and storage of evidence.

The team will also investigate police pursuits and whether the police are following rules set out by the province.

The ministry's team will arrive in Ottawa in November to conduct the inspection, interviewing police brass and patrol officers and quizzing them on how they do their jobs.

The inspection will take about two weeks and the findings are issued in a report to the police chief.

"We do regular inspections of all the police forces on a regular basis," said Bruce O'Neill, a spokesman for the ministry.

O'Neill said the study would help to ensure the chief and the Police Services Board that police are meeting standards set out in 2000.

It will be up to Chief Vince Bevan to release the report publicly, said O'Neill.