By Jill Penley
The state Comptroller’s Office, working in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), recently released details identifying several discrepancies within the Mountain City Police Department’s Property and Evidence Room, but Chief Denver Church has now corrected the discrepancies and is determined to restore confidence in the department
“We have corrected all inventory issues,” said Chief Church, “and a new inventory log has been made to include the proper information.” Chief Church also explained evidence drop boxes have now been installed in the department with cameras on evidence room.”
Access to the drop box and evidence is now limited to an evidence custodian, who is responsible for maintaining a strict log of persons entering and leaving evidence room.
The Comptroller’s Office and the TBI performed an inventory of selected items held in the police department’s evidence room on November 9, 2017, the same day officers Ronald Shupe, 44 and Ken Lane, 61, were arrested on drug charges.
Investigators reportedly compared the department’s inventory log with the actual items in police department custody and determined the inventory log was unreliable and incomplete.
The report also indicated that evidence bags had been cut open and drugs were missing. Investigators were unable to determine what happened to the seized property as some pertinent information, such as incident numbers, defendants’ names, and dates, was not noted when evidence was originally logged.
“Police officials have a responsibility to secure and account for all seized property,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Poor evidence control may jeopardize judicial proceedings and invite the risk of theft. I’m pleased to see the Chief is taking steps to address the problems.”
The Comptroller’s Office also recommended frequent identification of drug evidence and weapons which are no longer needed as state law requires these items to be disposed of in accordance with a court order.
“I am in the process of going through inventoried evidence now, “said Chief Church, “in order to obtain a court order to destroy what is no longer needed in accordance to state law.”