An investigation into the disappearance of evidence from the evidence room of the Dumfries police headquarters has determined that some items may have been taken, but no proof can be found that police officers were responsible, law enforcement officials said.

Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert asked the Virginia State Police on April 27 to investigate the department. The investigation was called to determine whether officers had stolen evidence, including illegal drugs seized in raids, weapons and money belonging to suspects, Ebert said.

"There is no conclusive evidence of any crime, that any {Dumfries} police officer past or present took any property," Ebert said. "That's not to say they didn't; there's just no evidence of it."

Ebert and other law enforcement sources said that they are certain some evidence is missing but that because of improper record-keeping, there is no way to determine what specifically is missing.

Dumfries Mayor Samuel Bauckman, agreeing with statements made by Ebert last week, characterized the police department as "in a mess." He said the investigation did not clear police officers -- it just failed to indict whoever was responsible. "It appeared that quite a bit of evidence was probably missing, but in tracing it, they {investigators} couldn't come up with who had taken it," Bauckman said.

Personnel policies prohibit him from discussing whether disciplinary actions will result from the investigation, Bauckman said.

Bauckman, Ebert, Dumfries Town Manager Thomas Harris and State Police investigator Ralph Marshall met last week to discuss the investigation, which examined evidence procurement procedures as well as storage and security of evidence.

Among the charges investigated was a claim by a suspected drug dealer that $3,200 had been stolen from him after he was arrested by Dumfries officers. Ebert said more than $2,800 of the man's money had been turned over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration after it was linked to illegal drug sales. Forfeiture laws allow the seizure of drug money.

Results of the State Police probe followed by weeks the end of another investigation into the troubled police department, which has seen the resignation of the previous chief of police and about half of the department's 10 officers since mid-1989.

The probe by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, which was requested by Harris and supported by current Police Chief Conrad LaBossiere, recommended 37 changes in the police department, including better security for evidence and better record-keeping procedures.

The report also questioned the number of high-ranking officials in the small department, suggesting that it was top-heavy.

It recommended that the agency's 10-year-old standing operation procedures be updated and that a workload analysis be conducted to determine whether scheduling procedures should be changed. The investigators also recommended that the department be moved to more suitable facilities and that an administrative secretary be hired to help with record-keeping, LaBossiere said.

The State Police investigation showed that evidence had been mishandled, but no criminal intent could be established, Ebert said.

State Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said investigators looked at the manner in which the Dumfries police "handled evidence seized and stored and the accountability of evidence for 10 years."

A statement from Town Hall said the investigation identified "several areas of administrative concern" that will be addressed by town officials.

Sources said the biggest problem is the agency's improper evidence storage facilities. In a previous interview, one officer said the evidence room is in the basement of Town Hall and accessible to maintenance workers and town officials.

Ebert also cited inadequate training and a lack of professional standards.

"This is a town's problem that needs to be solved by the town's fathers," he said. "They have some of the same problems other municipalities have -- not enough money and they are very busy. But those concerns need to be addressed."