State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Police Officer Under Investigation for Stealing Evidence

by on May 01, 2015 3:24 PM

A State College police officer is under investigation for possibly stealing evidence from the department.

Police chief Tom King says the department first began to suspect the thefts on April 22, after discovering irregularities in the way certain pieces of evidence were filed and stored. Further investigation led the department to suspect that one of three department personnel with access to the evidence room had been stealing evidence. 

The next day, King says the department contacted Pennsylvania State Police and requested a full criminal investigation, which is currently underway. The department is also conducting its own internal affairs investigation. 

The suspected officer -- who King says has been with the department "a long time" -- has been suspended and will have no access to police department facilities while the investigations are underway. Until charges are filed the police officer will continue to be paid by the department, as required by state law. The department will not release the name of the officer unless charges are filed.

"I feel very much betrayed, but this isn't just about the department. It's about the public," King says. "I worry about how this will impact the public's trust in this department."

King says the department's evidence room contains "everything you can think of," ranging from seized drugs to lost wallets and cell phones. Exactly what pieces of evidence were stolen -- and for what purposes they may have been used -- is still being determined. King says a complete audit of the evidence room will be complete by next week, which will give the state police a better idea of what evidence may have been stolen.

Although King says the thefts appear to be limited to a single officer, he was unable to speculate on how long the alleged thefts may have been taking place. As the investigations move further along, King says the department will be able to evaluate whether the stolen evidence will impact any ongoing investigations.

"Out of 77 employees, only three [including the officer under investigation] had access to our evidence room," King says. "We clearly follow best practices, but when something like this happens we'd be foolish not to look at what we can do to prevent similar instances in the future."

King says the department made its announcement as soon there was enough evidence to support such a serious accusation. He says he values the relationship between the public and the police department, and he asks for the community's continued support during this trying time.

"When something like this happens, the public can rest assured that it will be dealt with seriously, that it won't be covered up, and that it will be treated harshly," King says.

Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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