By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
"The dog ate it." Really? Really?? A police department in Washington state is under fire after an officer took home seized marijuana, only to report his dog ate the weed.
The Soap Lake Police Department, in eastern Washington, has been accused of numerous other instances of mishandling evidence as well, reports Aaron Luna at KXLY4. An outside investigation by the neighboring Moses Lake Police Department and two other agencies found that the Soap Lake cops didn't get required training on handling evidence.
Evidence was improperly tagged and placed in insecure areas, according to the investigation. In one case, a rape kit was found in a refrigerator next to the police chief's lunch.
Police evidence in Soap Lake is supposed to go into a locker in the day room and then into a safe, but the investigation found that this doesn't always happen.
Acting on complaints from citizens and other sources, Grant County Prosecutor D. Angus Lee (how's that -- a D.A. with the initials D.A.?) initiated in investigation into the Soap Lake Police Department and generated a 44-page(!) report.
The report shows a broken system for logging criminal evidence. Some of the policy violations were bad enough that criminal charges may be filed.
"I will say that we have received a request from Moses Police to consider that report for potential criminal charges and it's under that review right now," D.A. Lee said. "The biggest problem is the effect it's going to have on current cases and cases going forward."
Lee said the report "probably" won't affect previous cases, but that his office will "investigate" that possibility.
Soap Lake Mayor Raymond Gravelle, rather than admitting his officers were just incompetent slackers, claimed that the city's police chief "didn't have the money" to pay his officers to train, turning their boneheaded fuck-up into yet another call for funds.
"There's only $600 annually for training," Mayor Gravelle claimed. "There's only $1,000 for maintenance [and] repairs."
But that's no excuse, according to D.A. Lee.
"Honestly, budget (and) police agency size has nothing to do with it," Lee said. "It's just mismanagement, plain and simple, and it is a big deal."
"Ultimately the council voted unanimously in favor of rebuilding Soap Lake's police department," Mayor Gravelle said. "So that's my mission now."
The former police chief and one other officer have resigned.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.