The ability of the police to convict on the basis of evidence collected depends on the ability of the jury to trust that evidence. Following best practices of handling evidence is a great way to establish that trust. Rebecca Otto, our State Auditor published a best practices review of evidence handling by Minnesota agencies.
At the time of the auditor’s report, local news was featuring scandal by the Metro Gang Force involving evidence handling. Previous Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher attempted to block an audit of financial operations of the Metro Gang Strike Force, which his office has fiscal oversight. Later investigation found mishandled cash and confiscated property. Examiners could not account for more than $18,000 cash and at least 13 vehicles. Unwinding the responsibility led to civil lawsuits and the dissolution of the Metro Gang Strike Force. Sheriff Fletcher lost his next election.
The importance of evidence control cannot be overstated. If evidence can be questioned, it not only risks current prosecution cases but every case ever connected to that enforcement agency.
The case of a scandal in one Minnesota agency can cause questioning of the nearly 500 other law enforcement agencies in Minnesota. The best practices review by the State Auditor helped restore the public’s trust. In court, compliance with the results of this study is a good way to display evidence integrity.
Helping the cause of safety and justice is not what is normally expected of the office of state auditor. This is one example of the way that Rebecca Otto, our State Auditor has exceeded the expectations of just auditing books. So it is no surprise that in 2014 Rebecca Otto is elected one of 15 Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing by the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Great government work does not get media attention. The office of state auditor is mostly media invisible. When county officials are given best practice templates to follow, then the eventual audits have positive results. Everyone benefits. The best outcome is that we have better government.
This is another example of how our current state auditor, Rebecca Otto, improves accountability in local governmental. Rebecca Otto faces a serious primary race. Please pledge to vote, offer to volunteer and if you can afford it, please donate. Lets keep one of the best champions of good government!