State College police evidence room probe gets update

After an audit of their evidence room, State College Police Chief Tom King announced Friday that the items believed taken or tampered with from the station by a police officer were all drug-related, specifically “numerous” envelopes filled with oxycodone and cocaine.

The update on the investigation of tampering and theft of evidence comes about a month after the department announced the discovery of thefts from the room and had identified the officer, yet unnamed, suspected of tampering with items there. The officer was immediately placed on leave and has no access to any police facilities or systems, King said.

It could be awhile until more information regarding the incident is released. The criminal investigation was turned over to state police when the tampering was discovered. At the request of State College police, state police were involved in the audit. The envelopes and drugs have been sent to a state police laboratory for analysis to confirm which items were stolen or altered in any way, King said.

The analysis will involve checking weight and also contents of the envelopes in the event that drugs were taken and replaced with lookalikes or similar material, King said. While that process would not take much time, King said a return of the results could take weeks or longer because the lab receives evidence from across the commonwealth and there is a waiting list.

“They need the analysis before they can proceed,” King said, adding that he was “confident” in the investigation being carried out.

Once the lab work is done, state police investigators can file appropriate criminal charges against the suspected officer and the person’s name will be made public through the filing of a criminal complaint, King said.

King said that the majority of the evidence in question was taken from cases that had already worked through the court system and was scheduled for destruction. The department disposes of old drug evidence at an incinerator on the University Park campus, King said.

No non-drug-related evidence, like guns or money, was tampered with, King said.