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Illinois audit: Police training money misspent

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 11:33 p.m. CDT

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SPRINGFIELD – The agency that sets standards for Illinois law enforcement officers misspent grant money for police training and didn’t keep proper records about sessions for homicide investigators and coroners, according to an auditor’s report released Tuesday.

According to the report by state Auditor General William Holland, the Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board misapplied training money to such things as office rent, conference lodging and catering.

The audit, ordered by the General Assembly last May, reviewed $1.58 million in funding the Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board has used since 2010 from an account funded by a $2 fee to obtain a certified death certificate in Illinois. It put $1.3 million toward homicide investigation training and $188,000 into instruction for coroners.

The review determined the board did not have policies about how money should be used, had no list of approved training courses or training, rarely prepared a proposal outlining a session before it occurred, and sometimes lacked documentation to back up reimbursed expenses.

Kevin McClain, executive director of the board, acknowledged that because no grant money had ever been used for administrative costs, the agency put $13,846 toward office rent last year. But he said the misdirected spending will not occur again.

“We have a lot of work to do to make this better, and we’re going to do it,” McClain said.

The audit found that money was used for room rental, catering and lodging. At a May 2011 training that cost $30,358, catering and room rental totaled nearly $18,000 in unallowable costs. Another $10,000 went for “handouts,” but the audit found those included everything from application packets to awards. Auditors concluded only 8 percent of the cost went toward training.

A separate audit Holland released Tuesday determined that state Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s office had collected 30 unclaimed handguns in the past four years, which, according to office policy, should be turned over to the state police every six months.

The guns, which included what is described as a Starr Arms Co. revolver – a gun used briefly in the Civil War – were discovered in 11 safety deposit boxes that owners abandoned over the years. The state treasurer is responsible for collecting such unclaimed property and finding rightful owners. Rutherford recently announced he returned $139 million in previously unclaimed property to owners or heirs last year.

The guns are each fitted with trigger locks and secured in the state Capitol’s unclaimed property vault, according to Neil Olson, Rutherford’s general counsel.

Rutherford decided early in his administration to hold onto guns longer after seeing an appreciative son of a Chicago police officer claim a gun given to his father upon retirement, said Lori Ann McCabe, deputy chief of staff. But the office failed to update the previous administration’s policy of transferring them to the state police twice a year.

Officials will write a new policy that allows the guns to be held for 15 years, based on the amount of time it often takes for owners to claim safety deposit boxes, Olson said.

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Online: http://www.auditor.illinois.gov/

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Contact John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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