Kingston Police chief speaks to property/evidence audit

Chief of Police Scott Fraser speaks to the Kingston Police Services Board. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Out of the “thousands upon thousands” of items stored in the Kingston Police property and evidence system, only one is unaccounted for.

At the Thursday, May 16, 2024, meeting of the Kingston Police Services Board, Chief Scott Fraser discussed his previously published report on the annual property/evidence audit and explained the process by which the item was discovered to be missing.

Chief Fraser explained that the audit is done through the Professional Standards Unit: “They are the people who do most of our internal investigations or complaint investigations — anything that requires us to have a real look at ourselves… It’s like a quality assurance process.”

Fraser confirmed that the audit was very thorough, but, “this year, we did find that we were missing one piece of evidence, and they’ve tracked back to see how that one got misplaced. Fortunately, it wasn’t in relation to a court matter.”

The chief explained that the investigators track back to see if there are any common errors and rectify the situation.

”[This process] identifies weaknesses that we may have in our property storage and evidence vault or any other areas,” he said, giving as an example how the team could determine if extra security cameras are needed or whether equipment like a refrigeration unit should be replaced.

“So once again, [Professional Standards did] another comprehensive job on that,” Fraser concluded.

Board member Professor Christian Leuprecht asked the chief if there were measures in place to ensure that no evidence collected goes missing. He referred to the case of a veteran Toronto police officer who was found guilty on Thursday, May 9, 2024, of stealing credit cards and a $6,500 watch from the deceased individuals he was tasked with investigating.

“Certainly, that’s exactly why it’s done that way,” Fraser replied. “The manner in which [evidence] is seized at the scene, collected from the scene, all the way back to the station, and then once again when it is logged in [is all supervised and tracked].”

“And we know that those events do take place,” said the chief in reference to the Toronto case, “and that’s why we scrutinize it on a yearly basis, ensuring that we’re not lacking.”

In regard to the single missing item, Fraser assured the board, “We believe it’s a clerical error, but we’re going to err on the side of caution that it’s more than that [as we investigate].”

The chief further explained that the audit had served its purpose. He emphasized the importance of training members in “the proper processing of evidence, proper processing of property, money, and firearms” and “having a robust system in place” because, ultimately, every piece of property collected could potentially become important evidence in court.

“So that’s where our team goes in and does the audit: to try and find that weakness and then go, ‘OK, what do we have to do now to… ensure that that won’t happen?’” said Fraser.

Once the improvements are made, they then need to be further scrutinized through the audit process, Fraser continued, “because, ultimately, the only acceptable number here is 100 per cent [items accounted for].”

Kingston Police Services Board meetings are open to the public and take place on the third Thursday of each month, beginning at noon in the William Hackett Boardroom of Kingston Police Headquarters, located at 705 Division Street.

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