Illegal drugs are missing from the evidence room of the Hawaii County Police Department, and the person of interest is someone within the department.
We wanted to know what steps are taken to make sure evidence is safe?
The evidence room is generally considered one of the safest places in any police department. But if there’s someone from the inside looking to steal something from there then that changes.
Hawaii County police say cocaine from the evidence room was weighed because a small quantity was going to be used for training purposes. That’s when it was discovered that it was lighter than when it was initially turned in.
Former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle says it’s rare to have anything missing from an evidence room.
“It is meticulously documented in terms of who comes in what comes in what case it’s affiliated with and then it goes to higher and higher levels of security,” said Carlisle.
A criminal and administrative investigation was done in October and the department has identified a sworn employee as a person of interest.
In an interview with Big Island Video News, Police Chief Paul Ferreira says it was a detective. The detective was placed on administrative leave and has since retired.
“The human factor is the thing that you always have to be concerned about particularly when there are people who are bent on getting some sort of profit,” said Carlisle.
Hawaii County police say further investigation showed more weight discrepancies with other drugs from the evidence room. The department says it has tightened up procedures to prevent similar incidents from happening again, but did not specify.
KHON2 asked Carlisle if this could damage the credibility of the department.
“I think if it’s isolated to one individual, I don’t think that ruins the credibility of the department. If it’s something that’s a scheme that happens recurring, then you might take a look and see what’s the matter,” said Carlisle.
The Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office is now investigating. KHON2 reached out to Prosecutor Mitch Roth but he says he cannot comment.