Where did it go? Part 3: A WAFF 48 News Special Report

MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Department of Public Safety keeps us safe on the roadways, conducts investigations at the request of other law enforcement agencies, and they're missing a lot of stuff.

In the State Auditors' Fiscal Year 2010 Losses Report, the Department of Public Safety is second only to the Department of Human Resources in terms of dollar amount of missing property.

Col. Hugh McCall took over the agency in January, so WAFF 48 News went to him to get answers.

"We are very concerned about that, now we are making efforts to improve the way we do the audit with the Department of Public Safety," McCall said.

The 119 items listed on the report cost Alabama tax payers nearly $609,000. The most expensive item on the list is an optical imaging machine used to archive documents that was purchased for more than $47,000. When WAFF 48 News asked about it, a spokeswoman said the machine was considered obsolete and was written off. But nonetheless it's still listed on the report as "lost."

[FY 2010 Losses Report (PDF)]

Other costly items on the list include 15 fingerprint capture stations, at nearly $22,000 a piece. There's good news on those, McCall says his office has been able to track them down.

"They were purchased several years back over, close to ten years," he said. "It's technology and technology changes. In order to try to update that equipment, it would cost more to update than to replace."

Sometimes it's not the cost of what's missing that's alarming, it's the actual item. Eight firearms are listed on the report, ranging from a small pistol to a bushmaster rifle. Five of the guns are listed as lost, the other three as stolen. McCall says some of the guns were stolen out of patrol cars that were broken in to.

"A person can be punished and has been in the past, and made to pay for equipment that they were negligent on and destroyed," he said.

McCall says as a result of our investigation he is going to significantly increase the number of inventory officers assigned to keep up with the department's inventory.

"I'm even breaking that down even more, to out in the area, in the field, each area in the state will have an inventory officer, to check equipment more closely," he said.

Right now, DPS has just two inventory officers for the entire state. McCall hopes by upping that number and several other changes he's considering, his department will significantly reduce the amount of property that is lost or stolen.

"We just want to make sure that the citizens understand that we are doing everything to be fiscally responsible," he said.

Related Stories:

Copyright 2011 WAFF. All rights reserved.