Kentwood Police Department rapped by auditors

Auditors have criticized the Kentwood Police Department for failing to keep track of traffic tickets and letting some of them go unprocessed in court.

Their audit, released Monday by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office, says Police Chief Greg Newton and the department’s clerk were unaware the tickets were unaccounted for.

The audit also found “unusual” fuel purchases by the Police Department.

The audit did not specify what those purchases were, nor did the audit specify the number of unprocessed tickets or give a dollar amount on its findings.

State law requires police departments to maintain a record of all traffic ticket books that officers use to give traffic tickets to lawbreaking drivers.

The law also requires police departments to keep a copy of every traffic citation issued.

The Kentwood Police Department did record each ticket book issued, but it did not track ticket numbers after the tickets were issued, the audit says.

Because of the lack of oversight, an unspecified number of tickets did not make it through the court system, the audit says.

The department also lacks a written policy for maintaining traffic citation records, the audit says.

Newton is now drafting departmental traffic citation procedures and will have each officer review them, the audit says.

Newton did not return a phone call for comment Monday.

Kentwood Mayor Harold Smith declined comment when reached by phone Monday, saying he had not seen the audit and wanted to review it before speaking publicly about it.

The audit also found “unusual” fuel purchases made by police officers in 2012 using the town’s fuel cards, but it did not specify the nature of those purchases.

Newton was notified about the purchases, the audit says.

Newton told auditors he reviewed 2012 fuel invoices and found no unusual activity.

But the town’s attorney investigated the matter and found unusual fuel purchases, along with incorrect mileage entries, frequent oil and vehicle accessory purchases, and purchases labeled as “food” on the fuel invoices.

The audit says Newton failed to investigate the fuel purchases in a timely or proper manner.

Newton has begun maintaining fuel card receipts and is using them to investigate the unusual transactions, the audit says.

Brandy Wescott LLC, of Springfield, performed the audit.