A heroin theft problem at the Madison, WI, Police Department surfaced last year, says the Wisconsin State Journal. Investigators say an officer removed the drug from the property room for no legitimate reason at least 10 times. The department didn’t notice the pattern until after Detective Jeffery Hughes crashed his car Nov. 20 and investigators found a torn-open evidence bag of heroin and other drug-related materials in and around his car.
Madison started requiring a supervisor ‘s signature for the removal of sensitive evidence and say they are looking for more improvements. Police Chief Noble Wray has refused to explain key details about what policies or procedures existed before the crash, how they may change and whether any other officers have been implicated in wrong-doing. Maintaining a secure environment is “an area of policing that requires attention and financing and a greater degree of scrutiny than ever before, ” said William Kiley, a retired New York deputy police chief who trains departments nationwide in property room practices. Nationally recognized best practices include tight time lines for officers to return removed evidence and systems that track and double-check the location of evidence. Several respected police-standards groups say such steps help elevate practices in police property rooms, which traditionally have been cluttered, basement-level spaces that long have been viewed as the “red-headed step-child” of police operations.