Audit: $3 million in items unaccounted for in Oklahoma County Sheriff's inventory

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office and Jail (File/KOKH).

An audit shows that the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office under former Sheriff John Whetsel did not properly dispose of inventory items resulting in noncompliance with state statutes.

The audit, performed following Whetsel's retirement by Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones, shows that 3,041 of 7,844 items listed on the sheriff's office inventory could not be located. The total cost for the missing items is estimated at $3,362,003. The sheriff's office inventory also listed 308 items that had been properly disposed of but never removed from the inventory, totaling $141,967.

The audit was unable to locate 18 vehicles that the sheriff's office reported as disposed but documentation for those vehicles being removed was not provided. Five other vehicles were listed on the inventory and no records could be located that they existed.

The sheriff's office was also found to not keep a log of county-owned firearms and to who the weapons are assigned. 23 firearms were listed on the sheriff's office inventory but could not be located.

"We do an annual audit where we go through and look at all the books and things like that so we do spot checks but until this turnover audit was done we were not aware that it was to this level," said Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones.

The audit reports that the conditions have resulted in noncompliance with state statute and that the loss and misappropriation of county assets were more likely to occur because of the lack of record keeping. Jones recommends that the sheriff's office sets in place a system to maintain inventory records and mark assets with ID numbers.

Undersheriff P.D. Taylor, acting as head of the sheriff's office following Whetsel's retirement, said the audit "brought many things to light". Taylor reports that due to staffing issues the property division was reduced from six employees to three. Beginning in March, two additional staff members have reportedly been added to the property division.

Taylor says that a member of each OCSO division will be designated as an inventory officer to help keep records. He also stated that the agency plans to review their inventory and remove items that have been properly disposed of and identify those that need to be disposed of, in an effort to correct the inventory.

Read the full audit below:

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