The Kansas Standard Asset Seizure and Forfeiture Act (K.S.A. 60-4101 et seq.) gives law enforcement agencies in Kansas authority to seize money or property acquired in connection with certain illegal activities. As part of this audit we compared the seizure and forfeiture process in Kansas to four states (Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and New Mexico) and the federal government. We found that Kansas is similar to the other states and the federal government in terms of what property can be seized by law enforcement agencies and under what conditions. However, we also found that requirements for forfeiting property, spending forfeiture proceeds, and reporting on forfeiture activity varied across all states we reviewed and the federal government. We also evaluated two state and four local law enforcement agencies’ processes for property seizures and forfeitures under the state’s Forfeiture Act. Although there were some exceptions, we found that all six law enforcement agencies adequately safeguarded seized property, appropriately liquidated forfeited property, and appropriately spent forfeiture proceeds. However, the six law enforcement agencies lacked important controls for tracking forfeiture proceeds. Additionally, although state law enforcement agencies complied with reporting requirements in state law, local agencies did not. As a result of this work, we also identified several other findings related to the seizure and forfeiture process. Overall, we found that agencies have broad discretion over how forfeiture proceeds can be used, which creates a risk agencies could begin to depend on them for operating funds. Specific to the law enforcement agencies we reviewed, we found that the Coffeyville Police Department’s arrangement with the Montgomery County Attorney to handle forfeiture cases creates a conflict of interest and that the Salina Police Department lacked important controls for money used for controlled drug buys. Finally, none of the law enforcement agencies we reviewed had complete and written policies and procedures for seized and forfeited property.
State Agency Information Systems: Reviewing Security Controls in Selected State Agencies (CY2013)
Agency staff continue to struggle with two key areas we have audited before: ensuring servers and workstations are patched to prevent vulnerabilities, and having an adequate plan in place to be able to continue operations in the event of an emergency. Overall, we reviewed seven IT security processes across eight agencies and saw that some agencies are more committed to IT security than others. While all agencies could make improvements to their processes to help ensure confidential information is protected, agencies most committed to IT security were the agencies more likely to have strong IT security processes in place protect their confidential information.
Reviewing the Hiring and Promotion Practices of the Public Safety Agencies: A K-GOAL Audit of the Adjutant General’s Office, Fire Marshal’s Office, Highway Patrol, and the KBI
Many public safety employees are dissatisfied with their agencies' hiring and promotion processes, and survey responses from all 4 agencies indicated the highest level of concern was with promotions. In all, 36 - 54% of survey respondents said their agencies' promotion processes weren't fair or objective. Our review of a random sample of hires and promotions from fiscal year 2003 and of a sample of complaints raised by employee surveys also found problems with agency hiring and promotion practices. For example, both the Fire Marshal's Office and the KBI used reallocation to promote some employees rather than filling positions through a competitive process. The Fire Marshal's Office, the Highway Patrol, and the KBI all hired or promoted some employees who didn't meet minimum job requirements Finally, the Adjutant General's Office, the Highway Patrol, and the KBI didn't have current position descriptions. Overall, the problems we saw generally were caused by agencies not following laws or their own policies, rather than a lack of policies. These problems may be compounded by the fact that the Division of Personnel Services has significantly curtailed its oversight of agency personnel practices.
The exact costs of fighting methamphetamine in Kansas are difficult to determine because no hard data are available. However, we estimate that various agencies spent at least $21 million in Kansas last year to combat meth. More than half that money comes from local sources, with most of it being used to fund salaries for local law enforcement and prosecution. In addition to the direct costs of enforcement, a number of indirect or social costs are associated with using and manufacturing meth, and although difficult to quantify, 3 out of 5 law enforcement officials responding to our survey told us that more than 10% of the crime committed in their jurisdiction is meth-related. Law enforcement agencies' failure to report all labs they find to the KBI could reduce the amount of grant funds Kansas receives to fight the meth problem. Despite the explosive growth in number of reported labs, the majority of law enforcement officials responding to our survey told us they though that moderate or substantial progress is being made against meth. In addition, although most officials told us it's too soon to measure the impact of the Chemical Control Act, we noted that delays in processing evidence through the KBI lab and lack of staff to follow up on reports required by the Act were among the things that weaken the law's effectiveness. Law enforcement officials cited more staff, greater public awareness, and training and equipment as things they thought would aid in meth enforcement efforts.
Seized Property in Kansas: Determining Whether Laws Governing the Sale of Property Are Being Followed, and How the Proceeds Are Spent
Under State law, Kansas law enforcement agencies can seize money or property used in the commission of certain crimes, such as drug offenses. If that money or property is subsequently forfeited, the law enforcement agency can keep, sell, or destroy it. The 6 agencies we reviewed during this audit properly disposed of forfeited property, whether they retained it for official use or sold it. However, several agencies didn't follow appropriate procedures in handling forfeiture moneys: 4 agencies commingled forfeiture moneys from different sources, 1 county sheriff's office improperly deposited forfeiture moneys into a local bank account, and another sheriff's office paid attorney fees with seized money that hadn't yet been forfeited. Despite these problems, all 6 agencies spent forfeiture money in accordance with State and federal guidelines. While forfeiture money isn't a major source of income for most law enforcement agencies, it did allow agencies to buy computers, vehicles, and other equipment to aid in law enforcement activities.
Local law enforcement agencies have had to wait anywhere from two weeks to more than five months for the KBI to complete lab test results on the evidence they submitted. The Firearms, Biology, and Latent Prints Sections experienced the longest delays and had the largest backlogs of unprocessed work. Local law enforcement officials told us that having to wait for test results caused several problems, including delayed court proceedings and the release of arrested suspects. Staffing vacancies and increases in the number of cases being submitted for testing seem to have contributed the most to these delays. The number of cases submitted has grown by about 25% since 1993, and in February 1999 the Bureau's lab was operating with about 25% of its authorized positions vacant. Bureau officials indicate they're having trouble keeping employees and filling some vacant positions, at least partly because salaries are too low. Staffing shortages also have caused the Bureau to get way behind in entering certain data into two databases that are used to help solve crimes.
Examining the Statutory Requirements and Funding Sources for Background Investigations in Kansas
At least 25 new statutory provisions for records checks and background investigations have been enacted in the past decade. Most deal with the racing and gaming industries. These new provisions have had little impact on the number of criminal history records checks performed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, but they’ve nearly quadrupled the number of background investigations performed by State agencies. About 29 more people work on records checks and background investigations than five years ago. Most State agencies that request a significant number of records checks or background investigations budget and pay for them—two notable exceptions are the Governor’s Office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. As of March 1, 1998, more than 800 requests for background investigations were pending, and about 10,000 requests for criminal history records checks were backlogged. Other than a few optional background investigations which the Governor can request, there doesn’t appear to be much opportunity for scaling back records checks and background investigations.
Reviewing Funding of Gaming-Related Background Investigations Conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (100-hour audit)
For fiscal years 1996 and 1997 (through March 26), lottery and racing moneys were used to pay an estimated $600,000 in costs for activities of the Bureau’s Gaming Unit related to tribal gaming. (Starting the day after we began the audit and until the field work was finished, a total of $310,000 in tribal moneys had been paid to the Bureau, but it had reimbursed its lottery and racing fund account for only a portion of that amount.) By not billing the tribal casinos up-front or on a periodic basis, the Bureau essentially guarantees that racing and lottery moneys will be used to fund tribal gaming costs for a portion of the year. In addition, the Bureau isn’t billing at all for some of the costs associated with tribal casino work. Unless some significant changes are made in the way the State budgets for gaming-related activities, and in the way the Bureau figures its costs for each type of gaming, then the three types of gaming won’t be paying their fair share of these costs.
Reviewing the Effectiveness of the Domestic Violence Laws in Kansas
A 1991 State law focuses on domestic violence as a crime, and requires law enforcement centers to report all incidents of domestic violence to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. For a variety of reasons, however, the Bureau’s statistics aren’t complete. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and program directors reported that the number of domestic violence calls hasn’t changed since 1991. The number of arrests has risen since then, apparently because of the law’s mandatory arrest provision which has increased the courts’ involvement, and increased the likelihood that abusers will be referred to programs that might help them. People we spoke with pointed out that some judges aren’t adapting as well as others to the viewpoint that domestic violence is a crime, and suggested additional training to improve the situation. Program directors report that victims of domestic violence are faring better; however, because of the mandatory arrest requirement, some victims won’t call the police because they don’t want the offender arrested. People we talked with offered numerous recommendations and suggestions to help decrease or stop domestic violence in Kansas.
Through September 1994, 1,629 inmates had been released early through the retroactivity provisions of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act. The Department made some errors in converting inmates’ sentences, a few of which affected inmates’ release dates. Inmates released under retroactivity did not commit any more crimes after they were released than a similar group of inmates released on parole. Sentencing guidelines have decreased sentence length for some more serious crimes, and increased sentence length for some less serious crimes. In three areas--repeat property offenses, certain sex crimes, and certain drug crimes--many people question whether the sentences are proportional to the crime. Guidelines sentences are more uniform, but departures can reduce the degree of uniformity. A number of problems exist with the implementation of sentencing guidelines, including problems relating to technical parole violators, increases in the number of trials, incomplete criminal history records, and incomplete and inaccurate information provided to the Sentencing Commission.
Reimbursement for Services Provided by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation
In fiscal year 1992, the Bureau provided record checks and laboratory services to local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies at a cost to the State of about $2.2 million. Like other states, the Bureau has a policy of providing services to these agencies at no charge. The Bureau also provided about 120,000 record checks to non-criminal-justice agencies at a cost of about $650,000. Like other states, the Bureau charges a fee for these services. Because the Department of Health and Environment refuses to pay for its record checks, other agencies end up paying higher fees than necessary and the Bureau still does not collect enough money to fully recover its costs.
NHUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, KANSAS BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, BOARD OF INDIGENTS' DEFENSE SERVICES, COMMISSION ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
State Operated Laboratories Preliminary Assessment
Due to concerns that a number of the laboratories in the state are not operating to full capacity there is to be a review of the operations and fee schedules of state operated laboratories. Major state laboratories were identified from statutory and budget research prior audits, Budget Division, Legislative Research and other pertinent sources, including telephone interviews. The audit of the laboratories will follow the patterns of the audit of state operated pharmacies and drug rooms. This audit excluded such labs as those at state colleges and universities and labs operated by hospitals which serve the single institution’s needs.