Audit Finds Widespread Problems in East Tennessee Drug Task Force

Most of the 31 task forces charged with coordinating drug enforcement efforts across Tennessee are keeping good records, according to an annual audit by the state Comptroller’s office. But the report shows one in far northeastern Tennessee is riddled with problems that local officials agree can only be fixed by a change in leadership.

The Third Judicial District’s Drug Task Force operates in Green, Hancock, Hamblen and Hawkins Counties, a mostly rural area with a big methamphetamine problem.

The audit paints a picture of the task force office as a mess of unopened, unpaid telephone bills and overflowing evidence lockers. Some of the vehicles seized during drug arrests weren’t recorded in the books. Cash that was similarly seized wasn’t deposited until after auditors started asking about the missing money.

The report tells of overdrawn bank accounts, paperwork from police and sheriff’s deputies left ignored for half a year, and a fund drained down to just $66 despite a $10,000 loan.

In response to the audit’s findings, local officials sent a letter agreeing with every point. It goes on to say the task force director has since been reassigned to a job in the Hawkins County sheriff’s department, and that the search for a replacement is underway.

The audit found smaller-scale problems in four other districts, although most were explained as simple errors or misunderstandings.

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