Historic City News reporters learned that St Johns County Undersheriff Joel Bolante has concluded that St Augustine Beach police department personnel are not properly trained to manage an evidence room, based on the outcome of independent FDLE and SJSO investigations.
In a letter Friday sent to St Augustine Beach Mayor, Gary Snodgrass, Bolante says that the evidence room discrepancies, identified during the initial FDLE assessment-inventory in May 2012, were due to a multitude of factors that included deficient agency record-keeping, inadequate training, improper packaging of items, inadequate documentation and the improper storage of evidence.
Bolante wrote that he and St Johns County Sheriff David Shoar “strongly recommend” that the sheriff’s office “manage all evidence” maintained and collected by the St Augustine Beach Police Department.
It is further recommended that all Beach police officers receive additional training in the identification, collection, documentation and preservation of evidence.
Snodgrass and Vice-Mayor Rich O’Brien both support a significant reduction in the size and scope of responsibilities at the embattled police department; a controversial agency that some St Augustine Beach taxpayers say they would just as soon eliminate. The mayor and vice-mayor favor increased involvement by the sheriff’s office in the operation of the department.
According to Undersheriff Bolante, the sheriff’s office “is ready and willing to provide whatever law enforcement assistance” the St Augustine Beach community may need.