Prince George's County Auditor Bruce H. Abernethy has reported finding "several deficiencies in management of the property and equipment" procedures" in an audit of the sheriff's department.
In a report released earlier this month, Abernethy said there "were no indications of any exceptionally bad procedures" found in the audit. The digest of the report, however, cited weak court security, several inefficiencies in the warrant and process serving duties of the sheriff's department and deviations in expense, travel and gasoline recording procedures. The audit is conducted routinely every four years.
Sheriff Don E. Ansell, in a reply to the audit, said he found the report "intended to be negative in nature" and was "inconsistent in its explanation-between the body and digest of the report."
"I was extremely upset when I read the digest," he continued in a letter to the county council chairman William B. Amonett. Ansell and members of his department are currently under investigation by the state's attorney's office for alleged irregularities now discussed in the audit report.
The county council had no comment but Martha Nudel, council press aid said the council is studing a reorganization plan which would produce many of the changes recommended in the audit. The county plans to create a separate new corrections department that would take over operation of the county jail and the transportation of prisoners from the sheriff's department. The sheriff's office would be responsible for court security and the service of civil papers.
The major parts of the audit said the sheriff's department was "less effective at serving civil papers received from the District Court than were the sheriff's departments in two neighboring jurisdictions" and that the cost "of serving those papers was higher" in Prince George's.
At the same time, the court was not billed for 8.9 per cent of the papers served, it noted, with a loss of $47,000 annually in uncollected after five years.
The audit reported several discrepancies involving trips deputies made in extradition cases. Cited, too were inadequately explanined vounchers of excessive mileage, miscellaneous expenses and prolonged travel time on relatively short trips. Also listed were cases where deputies named in travel advances were not the ones who made the trips.
The report also said that "some issues of gasoline pumped at night by officers of the sheriff's and police departments were not recorded."
Abernethy said the kind of audits he conducts "are deficiency oriented" and are aimed at pointing out weakensses that exist in an agency.
The sheriff's reply agreed with many of the management recommendations made in the audit but pointed out that several agencies, including the court system and personnel, were responsible for many short-comings. Ansell said a major problem he had was a "lack of personnel" for his department.