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

Police Officer Under Investigation May Have Stolen Drugs From Evidence Room

by on June 05, 2015 3:35 PM

The State College police officer suspected of stealing evidence from the department's evidence room seems to have only taken two things: oxycodone and cocaine.

State College Police Chief Tom King announced in May that a longtime member of the force was under investigation by Pennsylvania State Police for possibly stealing evidence. Initially, King was unable to speculate on what pieces of evidence may have been removed because an audit of the evidence room was not yet finished.

King says the audit has now revealed that numerous envelopes containing drug evidence -- specifically the prescription pain medication oxycodone and the powerful stimulant cocaine -- were the only things that seemed to have been tampered with or stolen. The drugs were evidence in various criminal cases that had already been through the court system, and the drugs were scheduled for routine destruction.

"This is very disappointing and very troubling," King says. 

Although state police are conducting a criminal investigation, the State College Police Department is also conducting its own internal investigation. King says the internal investigation has given the department no reason to believe that the suspected officer was selling or distributing the drugs.

The envelopes that may have been tampered with have been sent to a lab in Harrisburg for further analysis. King says the lab will compare the results of the analysis to the weight and amount of the drugs that were recorded when police first filed the evidence. 

King was unable to speculate on how long that analysis might take, and explained that the lab has a large caseload from all across Pennsylvania. After the results of the analysis come back, state police will determine whether to press criminal charges.

King says possible charges may include theft, tampering with evidence and various drug charges, but stresses that decision is up to state police.

The suspected officer -- one of only three department employees who had access to the evidence room -- is currently on leave from the department and has no access to any police facilities. King says he does not believe the officer poses a flight risk. The officer's name has not been released because he or she has not been charged with a crime.

"We follow best practices, and you can never 100 percent guarantee that something like this won't happen," King says. "But it would be foolish not to take this opportunity to see if there's absolutely anything more we can do to make it less likely that anything like this will happen again in the future."

King has repeatedly stressed his commitment to transparency as the investigation continues. He says he greatly values the public's faith and trust in the department, and asks the community for its continued patience and support. 

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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