Allegations concerning “actionable items” when it comes to
“discrepancies between department ‘buy sheets’ and entries into a room
where a safe and department equipment is kept” at the Fort Smith
Police Department have emerged from an unannounced meeting for the
city of Fort Smith audit committee  and impugned the service record if
three longtime officers, two retired and one currently on the force.

A Freedom of Information request to the city of Fort Smith for any
and/all audits if the Fort Smith Police Department resulted in two
documents from city internal auditor Tracey Shockley. Shockley emailed
the documents through City Administrator Carl Geffken’s administrative
assistant Wendy Mathis with the accompanying email:

“—–Original Message—–
From: Shockley, Tracey
Sent: Monday, October 9, 2017 1:02 PM
To: Mathis, Wendy
Subject: RE: FOIA request #6

I have not performed any audits of the police department in 2015 or
2016.  I did a cursory review of the cash handling policies, which I
have attached the two memos.”

Inside Fort Smith reached out to Schockley by telephone, Facebook
messages and through others to no response.

The information coming from the meeting implied that former and
current offices may be under scrutiny for the discrepancies but that
reviews conducted by Shockley concludes for both years “All
expenditures and transactions appear to be properly authorized, the
logbook and supporting documentation for both cash functions appear
appropriate, and appears to be in accordance with Standard Operating
Procedures.”

However, an article published last week on NWA Talk Business and
Politics names three individual–retired majors Mark Hallum and Dean
Pitts–and current major Larry Ranells as the three supervisors who
would have had access to the say in which the department’s “buy money”
is stored during the time of the “actionable items”

“Maj. Mark Hallum (was) in charge of the criminal investigation
division (CID); Maj. Larry Ranells was over patrol; and Dean Pitts was
support services. He (Clark) did that shift and put Maj. Pitts, before
his retirement, over CID, and asked him to review the operations in
order to make sure we had coverage on all seven days instead of the
more limited coverage that had happened,” City Administrator Carl)
Geffken told committee members.

Shockey’s review for 2016 maintained “All expenditures and
transactions appear to be properly authorized, the logbook and
supporting documentation for both cash functions appear appropriate,
and appears to be in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures”

So the implication is that between September 2016 when the last review
was done and before they retired Hallum and Pitts, with a combined
fifty two years and five months of service between them went rogue and
misappropriated funds. Ranells seemingly still has access to the
funds.

Pitts retired May 31, 2017 and Hallum retired June 30, 2017. Ranells
is still on the force and was the officer who supposedly picked the
three finalists in the Harold Rochon debacle according to information
supplied to IFS two days after the original FOIA request in that
incident was provided.

A high ranking office of the FSPD, speaking with a guarantee of
anonymity said the entire episode speaks to “the lengths these people
will go achieve their goals.”

“These has been nary a hint of impropriety over the course of these
three officer’s career, and now, because members or  the force are
disgruntled with the situation and city directors are facing recall
these men who served the city so well are being drug through the mud?”
said the officer. “Kind of explains why people are taken early
retirement and bailing out for other jobs, doesn’t it?”

“In what seems to be a secret meeting with a stacked deck at that,”
said the officer.

The audit committee meeting, held last Wednesday, was not listed on
the city website was not notification  given to citizens which had
requested to be notified. NWA Talk Business and Politics reported four
city directors as members of the committee when the city ordinance
only calls for two.

Both of Shockley’s memos contained information on the policies and
procurement methods for the “buy money”.

“Two funds are kept in the Narcotics and Criminal Investigations
Division.  The first fund is “buy money” to pay for example,
confidential informants.  The second fund is an emergency fund for
travel or other extenuating situations as authorized by the Chief of
Police.

The “buy money” is a budgeted expense used in the course of
investigations.  Per Captain Jamie Hammond, Fort Smith Police
Department a total of $15,000 was budgeted for 2016, and is drawn upon
as needed throughout the year.  A check is issued to the supervisor,
cashed, and is kept in a safe behind two locked doors.  Only the
supervisors have the key/combination to the safe, and they must
approve the funds withdrawn.  There is a logbook showing the
following:
• the date of the transaction,
• the transaction number,
• the time of the transaction,
• the name of the officer to whom funds are issued to,
• the name of the authorizing supervisor,
• the amount of cash disbursed,
• the balance remaining after the disbursements, and
• the purpose for which it is to be used.

All officers who request the funds have to sign for cash, and the
purchases are used as evidence.  Monthly three supervisors will
reconcile the supporting documentation with the remaining funds.
Monthly reports of the detailed activity are submitted to the Chief of
Police by the supervisor.  Quarterly, the purchases, evidence,
supporting documentation and cash are reconciled by the Professional
Standards Officers and a report issued.

The emergency fund is used when officers have to have access to cash
for travel when time does not permit an advance from the Finance
Department.  Full reimbursement is to be made by the officer after
his/her travel reimbursement is received.  The balance in this fund
should remain at a consistent amount if reimbursed properly.”

The two memos can be viewed HERE:

The cursory review statement for 2015 states: “The City of Fort Smith
Police Department Fiscal Management Policy states that “at least
annually, the Fort Smith Police Department will request the City of
Fort Smith’s Internal Auditor (IA) , if available, to conduct an audit
of all of the Fort Smith Police Department’s cash collections
functions to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, ordinances,
and policies.”

The statement goes on to say that “The City of Fort Smith Internal
Audit Department (IA) was asked to conduct an annual audit by Cpl.
Kelley Colton, CALEA L.E. Accreditation Manager.  Cpl. Colton provided
the policy and the prior year’s report.  IA met with Cpl. Colton to go
over the requirements, policies, and procedures.”

According to the memo: “IA arrived unannounced and reviewed the
cashbox funds, and the Narcotics and Criminal Investigations Division
funds on December 7, 2015.  IA tested the records, logbook, and checks
written to the supervisor.  IA also counted the cash on hand, and
observed certain cash procedures.  In addition, IA discussed with the
officers in charge and clerks the policies and procedures for the
handling of the cash along with the security of the funds.  A count of
the cashbox was conducted and the cashbox contained exactly $100
dollars.  The log reflected the beginning and ending count along with
the officer’s name.

The “buy money” was counted and compared to the logbook.  The “buy
money” for the beginning of the year was $6005 and all transactions
tied to the support with the ending balance as of December 7, 2015 of
$1,080 dollars.  Some monies requested were not used or were partially
used during the transactions.  The support was documented and the
monies returned to the safe.  The supervisor and the officer notated
in the logbook by crediting the balance.  When the balance depletes to
around $1000 dollars, the supervisor requests a replenishment of
funds.

IA did note that the return of some monies was not immediate, several
weeks, and recommends that the supervisor frequently remind the
officers the importance of returning any unused monies as soon as
possible.

The emergency fund started with a beginning balance in January 2015 of
$2000 and had an ending balance as of December 1, 2015 of $1,823
dollars.  The difference was for a recent request that has not been
reimbursed by the City as of the audit date.”

The conclusion of  the 2015 “review” shows that “all expenditures and
transactions appear to be properly authorized, the logbook and
supporting documentation for both cash functions appear appropriate,
and the cashbox fund appears to be in accordance with Standard
Operating Procedures.”

The memo from Shockley for 2016, dated September30, 2016  also
produced no discrepancies:

“IA (Internal Audit) arrived unannounced and reviewed the Narcotics
and Criminal Investigations Division funds on September 30, 2016.  IA
tested the records, logbook, and checks written to the supervisor.  IA
also counted the cash on hand, and observed certain cash procedures.

The “buy money” was counted and compared to the logbook and support.
The “buy money” for the beginning of the year was $3745 and all
transactions tied to the support with the ending balance as of
September 30th of $2,580 dollars.  Some monies requested were not used
or were partially used during the transactions.  The support was
documented and the monies returned to the safe.  The supervisor and
the officer notated in the logbook by crediting the balance.  When the
balance depletes to around $1000 dollars, the supervisor requests a
replenishment of funds.

The emergency fund started with a beginning balance in January 2016 of
$2000 and had an ending balance as of September 30, 2016 of $2,000
dollars.  The emergency funds were not utilized until June 2016.

Conclusion

All expenditures and transactions appear to be properly authorized,
the logbook and supporting documentation for both cash functions
appear appropriate, and appears to be in accordance with Standard
Operating Procedures.”

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