WICHITA — At least 54 cases are missing evidence, according to a 2021 audit of the Wichita Police Department’s (WPD) Property and Evidence facility. The newly released information comes just a day after the city manager pointed to multiple issues within the facility.
This could mean cases could be thrown out, but Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said this is more of a records management issue, not a missing evidence issue.
When Bennett found out about the problems with the property and evidence facility, he wanted the details.
“That seems almost within the realm of human error,” said Bennett.
Bennett met with City leadership on Tuesday. Afterward, he said the issue is centered around records management.
“But to run a property and evidence section, it is not very equipped for that, and frankly, it’s appearing that is not equipped for that at all,” said Bennett.
Wichita Council Member Jeff Blubaugh visited the facility on Tuesday and said it is a mess and needs attention immediately.
Bennett shares similar concerns.
“It’s an embarrassment, in fact, for the department, but that is a far cry from suggesting that there is any evidence of malfeasance, criminality, lost, [and/or] stolen property,” said Bennett.
But if the evidence is found to be missing, it could cause cases to be thrown out, according to Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered Shareholder Attorney, Sal Intagliata.
“If you have clearly exculpatory evidence and it is gone, you are entitled to relief,” said Intagliata.
“If we find out that there are things where they are not supposed to be, then we are going to have issues, but thus far, that has not been brought to my attention,” said Bennett.
The City has a four-phase plan of action in place to fix the issues within property and evidence.
According to the plan, we will not know how many cases are missing evidence for at least 90 days.
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