Department of Justice in Pocomoke to Perform Audit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Department of Justice in Pocomoke to Perform Audit

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POCOMOKE CITY, Md.- Representatives from the United States Department of Justice were in Pocomoke City on Monday for the second time in a matter of weeks.  However, Monday's visit was much less controversial, and much more routine, according to city officials.

Following the unrest in Pocomoke that came after the firing of Police Chief Kelvin Sewell, members of the Department of Justice Community Relations Service division were in the city to help ease tensions and restore relationships between neighbors and city leaders.

Monday, Department of Justice members returned to Pocomoke, this time from the office of Community Oriented Policing Services.  In 2011, Pocomoke City received a grant from that DOJ office.  According to Pocomoke City Solicitor William Hudson, the DOJ informed the Pocomoke City Police Department that members from the COPS office of the DOJ would be coming to town for a random, routine audit of the grant money.

Interim Police Chief Lt. Earl Starner tells WBOC when the DOJ comes to town for an audit, it is for three reasons. The first is to provide customer service to the police department that received the grant.

"The second one is to review our compliance with the grant.  The third one is to review our community policing processes or philosophies. [It's a] philosophy that the Pocomoke City police department has well embraced," said Starner.

Starner said it was DOJ for the organization to audit 10 percent of the departments that receive grant money and it was Pocomoke City's turn.  The grant money provided by the DOJ to Pocomoke City Police Department was to be used to hire another office focused on community policing initiatives.  Starner also added that the grant comes with very specific guidelines and rules to follow.  The audit is designed to make sure police departments are in fact following those rules.

Hudson told WBOC Monday that if the DOJ determines those guidelines were not follow with the grant, the city may be asked to return the grant money to the Department of Justice.

Starner said there are still a few pieces of information  the police department needs to provide to the DOJ.  Because of that, there is no timetable yet as to when the department will learn the results of the DOJ audit.  Hudson also added that any rumors about the grant money being misused or embezzled are false.

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