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KFOX14 Investigates obtains audit of Sunland Park PD, finds inconsistencies

Sunland Park Police cruisers parked at headquarters. File Photo.

An audit of the Sunland Park Police Department shows some inconsistencies with what the city manager said was in the report back in February.

City Manager Bob Gallagher ordered the audit due to concerns about several issues, including lost or misplaced evidence.

Gallagher said in February the report was a personnel matter and wouldn't be available to the public. But KFOX14 Investigates obtained the audit through an open-records request.

"I will just say that the operational audit is not in the public domain," Gallagher said on Feb. 22. "Was there corruption? I think there was borderline corruption."

Gallagher also said one of the big issues revealed in the audit was missing or misplaced evidence.

"When a case was called, went to find the evidence in the evidence locker, and sometimes the evidence wasn't there," Gallagher told KFOX14 in February. "Sometimes the evidence was never logged in, sometimes the evidence was found at an officer's home when we went looking for it."

After obtaining the audit, KFOX14 Investigates read through the 16-page document and found it didn't exactly line up with what Gallagher said.

The report said the auditor sampled 10 cases between 2013 and 2016. The report says, "Of the ten cases, we were able to locate nine items in the evidence room and one appeared to be at the New Mexico State Crime Lab."

The report did say there were several original case files missing, as well as a log sheet. But it made no mention of evidence itself missing or being found at an officer's house.

He also said the audit revealed that people in the department leaked information about private and undercover operations. But nothing about that was mentioned in the audit.

KFOX14 Investigates reached out to Gallagher Monday morning asking about the differences. He replied to an email saying he would be happy to answer questions, but never got back to KFOX14 Investigates with the answers as of Monday evening.

Javier Guerra took over as chief of the department last month. KFOX14 Investigates talked with him about his take on the audit findings.

"I really didn't see much of a corruptible language in this report, but I think a lot of it has to do with previous practice," Guerra said. "I don't think that our guys that are here right now on the job have any issues with integrity. They're all very well-qualified, very well-informed and very trustworthy individuals."

Guerra said he's already ordered new weapons for officers and is now looking at some changes recommended by the auditor.

He said overall, there are some concerning elements to the audit, but said they're all fixable.

"It takes time and probably a little bit of money because weapons cost money, cars cost money, new technology costs money. But as long as I have the backing of the City Council and mayor and city manager, we're going to take this police department to the next level," Guerra said.

He said one of his main goals is to be a transparent police department and to restore trust between the department and the community.

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