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Eastpointe

October 17, 2012

Police officers resign amid conduct investigation

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — Two police officers from the Eastpointe narcotics unit resigned amid an investigation into their conduct while on duty.

“One of the officers put his resignation in a couple weeks ago, and the other last week, prior to their individual internal hearings where they would have had a chance to see the evidence against them and give an explanation,” said City Manager Steve Duchane.

Neither officer offered a reason for their resignation. Evidence of improper relations with informants surfaced in the early summer, which led to the start of an official investigation in July.

According to Duchane, the investigation started after the city received a phone call from a third party questioning the off-duty actions of the officers. In response to the call, department heads took a cursory look into the officers, and in doing so, enough questionable information surfaced to warrant a formal investigation.

The investigation into the officers revealed a slew of internal violations and illegal activity, ranging from drug issues to the sale of stolen goods.

Both men were sent for drug tests at the beginning of the investigation, but Duchane declined to comment on the results of those tests. He did say one of the officers was “receiving treatment for personal issues” protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

However, evidence of illegal drug activity surfaced during the investigation when one of the officers checked out drugs from a nearby department for a sting operation and returned less than borrowed.

“He went up to Fraser to check out some pills for a bust,” Duchane said. “Normal police business. Afterward, he called them and asked if they wanted them back or if they wanted him to just log them for the incinerator here. What he logged for the incinerator here was significantly less than what he checked out there.”

Duchane did say that it could be sloppy bookkeeping, but amid the rest of the evidence, it wasn’t something that could be written-off as a casual mistake.

In addition to funny happenings surrounding department-confiscated drugs, and claims of drugs and other confiscated items never being logged into the department, evidence emerged of both men selling confiscated goods on Craig’s List.

“Through an informant, we were able to prove at least one incident of them selling a set of rims confiscated during a drug bust on Craig’s List,” Duchane said, explaining that what they can prove could be significantly less than what was actually taking place.

“For example, if you bust a guy and he has $200 in his wallet and you take it and put it in yours and never log it into evidence, I have no way of knowing it was ever there.”

Other than a few instances of could-be sloppy bookkeeping, for the most part, the books match up.

Duchane said they were able to account for all reported cash through journal entries, but some items from evidence were unaccounted for. Additional evidence causing the department to question the officers’ conduct in dealing with informants was discovered through a series of texts recovered from the officers’ cellphones.

Texts alluded to and explicitly described illegal transactions with informants, such as selling or trading items uncovered in busts, other suspicious monetary transactions, warnings to the informants when the internal investigation began and references to a possible third-party drug dealer known as “the doctor.”

After investigations into their conduct concluded last month, both men were scheduled for an internal hearing, but both offered resignations prior to the start of the hearing.

“They aren’t really the city’s problem anymore, to an extent, because there is still an evidentiary role and a criminal justice role, but as they are no longer employees, we are no longer on a time table to move on this.”

The men aren’t off the hook, though. Both could face criminal charges.

Their files were forwarded to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office upon the completion of the investigation. They are being reviewed by Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Liston. Representatives from the prosecutor’s office were unable to be reached for comment at press time.

During the course of the investigation into the two narcotics officers, the Eastsider received information regarding a possible third officer involved in similar criminal activity. When asked if there were any other officers being investigated at this time, Duchane declined to comment specifically, but said, “There are other issues that still need to be looked into.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.

Under Prop 2 these men could have been able to keep their jobs and taxpayers may have never heard of any of this. All it would take is a union negotiated "gag rule" in a contract to make it the law.

Wondering if anyone else has thought of this?