- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Audit Provides Roadmap for Improvement at Essex Sheriff’s Department
Mike Wessler, Communications Director
Boston — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released a transition audit of the Essex Sheriff’s Department (SDE), which calls for improvements in its procurement process, collection and documentation of police detail funds, inventory oversight, and other issues. The audit also raises concerns about the funding levels for the Department. The transition audit was requested by newly-elected Sheriff Kevin Coppinger and serves to provide an understanding of areas needing improvement in the SDE.
“I commend Sheriff Coppinger for seeking an independent assessment of the operations of the Department and quickly taking action to address some of our audit findings, which uncovered numerous deficiencies in operations that put taxpayer dollars at risk for misuse,” Bump said. “I hope this audit serves as a roadmap for continual improvement of the operations of the Department.”
Among the recommendations included in the audit, Bump calls on SDE to:
- Ensure that all required documentation relative to purchases is maintained on file to confirm that goods and services are properly procured;
- Implement a policy requiring an annual department-wide risk assessment and plan to address identified risks;
- Properly report to her office any shortages and thefts of funds or property as required by law;
- Reduce the risk of loss, theft, or misuse of monies by properly segregating the duties and responsibilities--such as the authorization and reconciliation of transactions--between staff involved in the management of its funds; and
- Improve its collection of fees from entities that hire police details.
In its response, the Department reports it has already begun to take action to implement many of the audit’s recommendations.
Bump also expresses concerns related to the SDE’s budget. The audit notes that legislative appropriations fell significantly below actual expenses of the Department, which required supplemental appropriations in the previous two fiscal years to meet its operating needs. The audit notes that SDE has taken steps to reduce overtime spending and improve oversight of this spending and prioritize staff positions and operations.
“I appreciate the Auditor’s thorough assessment of our Department’s numerous operations and her recommendations for improvement. Since taking office last year, I have been actively working to identify all areas of concern as we strive to implement positive changes. This audit has helped us to identify additional operational enhancements which will help make us more efficient and accountable. I want to thank Auditor Bump and her staff for this comprehensive review,” stated Sheriff Coppinger.
On Tuesday, Bump will tour the Essex Sheriff’s Department facilities to learn about improvements made following the audit and its innovative women’s detox program.
The Essex Sheriff’s Department was established as an independent state agency on July 1, 1999. It is responsible for running and overseeing all aspects of its facilities. It also oversees the Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center in Middleton. As of December 31, 2016, it had approximately 622 employees and a total inmate population of 1,522.