Crime

State College police officer on leave suspected of stealing evidence

State College Police Chief Tom King, right, said a member of the force is suspended on suspicion of stealing from the department’s evidence room.
State College Police Chief Tom King, right, said a member of the force is suspended on suspicion of stealing from the department’s evidence room. CDT photo

A State College police officer has been placed on leave on suspicion of theft from the department’s evidence room.

The department discovered irregularities in how evidence was being filed, Police Chief Tom King said at a news conference Friday, and an internal investigation was conducted April 22, concluding that the irregularities weren’t by accident and were potentially criminal in nature.

Based on that investigation, King said, on April 23, he contacted state police, who initiated an audit of the evidence. That audit is expected to conclude next week and to reveal what was taken and over what period of time the alleged thefts occurred.

A criminal investigation by the state police is underway, King said. The Centre County District Attorney’s Office has also been notified of the developments.

What charges the officer may face depends on the outcome of the investigation, King said.

The officer, who was not named, is one of three department employees with access to the evidence room, he said. Because the officer has not been charged, the department is contractually required to pay the officer while on leave.

All access to the department and its systems have been taken from the officer, he said. The department has no reason to think the alleged thefts extend beyond the one officer.

Because it involves a personnel matter, he said, “the department is unable to provide any further information related to the internal affairs investigation at this time.”

King said he was “100 percent” betrayed by the situation, adding, “There’s a betrayal, a disappointment, a frustration. But I worry how does it affect us having the trust of the public?”

In order to maintain transparency, he said, the public should be notified that the allegations are being investigated rather than waiting one to two months for the investigation to conclude.

“The State College Police Department recognizes the citizens of the State College area have endowed us with a public trust,” he said. “We must honor that trust by holding ourselves to the highest standards of police conduct at all times.”

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