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State Gang Strike Force offices shut down

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Metro Gang Strike Force has closed its headquarters after the force's commander learned some investigators had turned up to remove items from the offices.

Force commander Chris Omodt says he doesn't know what items were being removed from the offices in New Brighton but was concerned they were related to a probe of the force that officials announced Wednesday.

Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion had said he will ask an advisory board to suspend the Metro Gang Strike Force to deal with financial management problems.

Campion says he informed 13 Twin Cities police agencies whose officers work for the unit that the state will stop their funding starting in 30 days while the Department of Public Safety works with Omodt to clean up the problems.

Campion's announcement came after the legislative auditor released a report showing a lack of financial oversight at the unit that polices Twin Cities gang activity, including $18,000 in seized cash and 14 vehicles that couldn't be accounted for.

The audit also says procedure wasn't followed when six officers went to a law enforcement conference in Hawaii earlier this year.

Campion says he plans to hire a former federal prosecutor and retired FBI agent to investigate. He made the announcement during a legislative hearing on the audit. He says he will ask the unit's advisory board to make the monthlong suspension formal next Wednesday.

Campion says he doesn't aim to shut down the Metro Gang Strike Force permanently and expects it to be back up and running better after what he expects will be a 30-day suspension.