January 26, 2011 Edition

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Audit set for WR

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Mayor Don House has formally requested that the city's finances and its police department be audited by state auditors.

House said among reasons for the audit were allegations of wrongdoing in the Walnut Ridge Police Department,

Walnut Ridge Alderman Dirk Davis told the city council at last month's meeting that he had received allegations of problems within the police department, and he recommended the department be audited.

Thefts of items from the police department's evidence room have been reported. Records and other documents are also missing, according to House.

Former Walnut Ridge Police Chief Leslie "Gator" Gates told House the evidence room had been broken into four or five times, House said.

"It's routine for a new administration to do an audit," said House. "I called the auditors two weeks ago, and they operate on their own schedule." They will be here in the spring and will work on the audit for a month or longer."

Their services are provided by the state, so the city will not be charged for the audit.

According to House, if the auditors find a problem, investigators will then be brought in to try to determine whether any personnel within the department participated or helped to facilitate the break-ins and thefts.

"All we want to do is clear the air," House said. "We just want to be able to say the books are straight. We are not accusing anybody of committing any crime."

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