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State examining city’s handling of evidence

POULSBO — The Washington state Auditor’s Office scrutinized evidence management procedures by the Poulsbo Police Department recently, after a former police clerk was arrested for allegedly stealing a handgun from evidence.

State Auditor’s Office spokeswoman Mindy Chambers said a regularly scheduled annual audit of the City of Poulsbo began May 13 and included evidence management. When the state learned about the stolen pistol on Aug. 2, auditor April Walker added additional procedures to look at destroyed evidence. The completed city audit should be issued by the end of September, according to Chambers.

Meanwhile, the former police clerk accused of stealing the .308-caliber, semi-automatic pistol appeared Thursday in Kitsap County District Court for a felony status hearing. Amanda M. Dixon, 22, was arrested for felony firearm theft and booked into the Kitsap County Jail July 29. She later pleaded not guilty to the charge. A felony status hearing scheduled for Thursday was continued to Sept. 15.

Defense attorney William Houser declined to comment on the case.

According to Sheriff’s Office reports, the handgun was reported destroyed by Dixon and Poulsbo city employee Josh Howerton on July 11, 2010. The gun resurfaced this year when Dixon was under investigation for drug possession. She was arrested for misdemeanor possession and obstruction in June, but has yet to be charged.

Dixon’s father turned the handgun over to Poulsbo Police following her arrest, triggering an investigation into its disappearance from evidence. State law requires cities to notify the state auditor’s office immediately when discovering “known or suspected loss of public funds or assets or other illegal activity.”

According to state records, Poulsbo Finance Director Deb Booher and Accounting Manager Jana McQuade notified the auditor’s office of the incident Aug. 2. Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson emphasized the city was being careful and thorough in its response to the alleged firearms theft.

“When we found out there was potentially a problem, we conducted an internal investigation before notifying the state; several departments are involved,” Erickson said. “I take this kind of matter very seriously. We have to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. We also have to be cognizant of the ongoing investigation.”

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