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Auditors Discover More Discrepancies in Weslaco Paper Trail
WESLACO - In May, CHANNEL 5 NEWS led an investigation—The Paper Trail— that exposed major flaws in Weslaco’s crime reports.
State auditors discovered more than just mislabeled crime reports and disappearing drug seizures.
Three state auditors spent two days in Weslaco. They discovered police over-reported violent crimes and under-reported others.
“The auditors went through each and every report,” said Weslaco Police Chief Stephen Mayer.
Mayer asked for the internal audit after CHANNEL 5 NEWS exposed discrepancies in police documents. The auditors selected July 2014 at random to audit.
“DPS found 87 simple assaults, where we had reported 40 simple assaults,” Mayer said. “A difference of 47 reports, and I still don't have an adequate explanation of what happened there.”
Some reports were over-reported and some under-reported.
“In this month DPS found that we had over-reported in violent crime, 10 offenses, in property crime, 18 offenses,” Mayer said.
Mayer attributes the mistakes to a shift in the way Weslaco tracks crime. Until 2012, officers looked at every single report, and then they determined the category for the crime. All crime reporting was done manually.
In 2012, Weslaco switched to a computer-based system. Police relied solely on technology, but computers didn’t always get it right.
“Obviously, that wasn't a good choice,” Mayer said.
The audit determined two things: Weslaco isn’t as violent as some thought, and technology isn’t always accurate.
“We’ve made the front-line supervisors check the officer’s work, initial the form themselves, saying ‘I checked this and it's accurate’ and then at the end of each month, I review those reports personally,” Mayer said.
Mayer said the police department is going to put their best foot forward in the future.
“A paper trail corrected,” Mayer said.
Weslaco’s crime statistics are on track to change, depending on where the new paper trail leads.
“I said it from the very beginning; the citizens of this community deserve to know what their police are doing, and that hasn't changed,” Chief Stephen Mayer said.
Even though auditors caught the mistakes, Weslaco’s 2014 crime report will not change. There should be a major shift in violent crime numbers between 2014 and 2015.
Chief Mayer said he wants more oversight in the department. He’s asked for six additional corporals and one more sergeant.
Mayer said he thinks more manpower will ease the workload. The city commission will make a decision in the next two months.
Visit the Paper Trail Web page for links to the reports about cities in the Rio Grande Valley.