SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police announced Friday they are investigating their evidence room after a civilian employee was put on leave due to a failed drug test prompted by the employee’s “very unusual behavior.”
Chief Mike Brown said they are releasing details Friday in the interest of transparency. He said three weeks ago an employee in the evidence room was acting strange, so a supervisor put them on administrative leave and requested a drug test.
“Unfortunately, the drug test came back positive,” Brown said. “We took very, very aggressive measures. Again, she was placed on admin leave. We started an internal investigation. We contacted the District Attorney, Sim Gill and his office, and we asked [Unified Police Department] to do a criminal investigation for us.”
Brown said they don’t believe that any evidence was compromised, but he said they are taking steps to verify that.
“Right now we have no indication that any of the evidence has been compromised in our evidence room,” Brown said.
The department has worked with the DA’s Office to come up with an audit process to verify the integrity of the evidence and make sure no cases are affected.
Brown said a team of several officers will examine evidence for issues.
“These officers will methodically go through 200,000 pieces of evidence, 40,000 of which are drug-related, to make sure that they are in compliance and to protect this evidence,” he said.
The employee in question is no longer with the Salt Lake City Police Department, but Brown did not specify whether the employee was terminated or quit or after initially being placed on leave.
DA Sim Gill said they are treating the potential breach seriously, though they don’t believe any evidence has been compromised.
“A proactive and robust and aggressive methodology that will ensure the integrity of the evidence in the cases that I’m obligated to prosecute was an essential part of the equation,” Gill said.
Gill said he appreciates that Chief Brown reached out to his office for help with ensuring that methodology is suitable for the task at hand. Authorities will investigate all drug-related evidence and all evidence that the employee was in the chain of custody for, and eventually the “totality” of the evidence in the evidence room.
Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.