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Report: FBI Has Been Mishandling, Misplacing Evidence For Years

A critical internal investigation of the FBI revealed that the agency has mishandled and lost thousands of pieces of evidence due to both human error and a transition to a new computer system back in 2012.

The findings of the investigation are extremely troubling, as it has revealed serious mishandling of nearly half of the more than 41,000 pieces of evidence that had been reviewed.

In addition to evidence going missing, being mishandled and mislabeled, the investigation also revealed that the FBI was storing more weapons than it had reported along with two tons more drugs than its records indicated, as reported by the New York Times.

One major contributor to all the errors was a recent transition the FBI made to a new computer system that was supposed to actually cut back on errors being made by making it easier for agents to search through all the pieces of evidence.

Unfortunately, the transition to the new Sentinel system created major problems instead.

“The FBI identified issues primarily related to the migration of its earlier record-keeping process to its updated case management system,” said Michael Kortan, the FBI’s chief spokesman, according to the New York Times. “The bureau is now strengthening procedures in field offices across the country to improve administrative consistency and record-keeping.”

Strengthening those processes will be key considering the fact that the errors that were not a result of the Sentinel transition but pure human error.

FBI mishandled evidence “A majority of the errors identified were due in large part to human error, attributable to a lack of training and program management oversight,” auditors wrote in the report.

Reports from offices in Newark, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Washington and Richmond, Va., revealed that more than 70 percent of their firearms in evidence had been mishandled.

Overall, at least 1,600 pieces of evidence were removed from storage and were not returned for months.

In one case, evidence in a drug case had been signed out for more than a decade.

The report could mean good news for defendants across the country, however.

The mishandling of the evidence could cause it to be thrown out in court and the FBI has already been busy alerting prosecutors.

As for the Sentinel program, the bureau said it has lived up to its promises and that the transition was the only thing that caused problems.

A report released back in September by the Department of Justice inspector general claimed that the program reduced the number of lost documents but that same report, according to the New York Times, also took note of serious problems with the program’s search functions.


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