In Crestview, Florida, Police Street Crimes Unit investigator Tim White is out of a job for swiping grass from an evidence locker and planting it at a residence to beef up the grounds for a search warrant application. Even more interesting, he says he did so on orders from a supervisor. And that's just the beginning of the interesting revelations White turned over in a letter to David Cable, mayor of the city of 21,000. In fact, it's that letter that led to his newly unemployed status, and may lead to so much more.
Reports the Northwest Florida Daily News:
In the letter that led to him being investigated, White reported that he was instructed by "my supervisor" to drive to the supervisor's home.
While there, he said he was ordered to dig a hole and then told to turn his department-issued weapon over to the supervisor, who used it to kill a sick dog that belonged to a family member.
White also reported that he conducted a "trash pull" as part of an investigation and "located a small amount of marijuana."
"I advised my supervisor of my findings and my supervisor advised me 'if I was in your shoes I'd get marijuana from the SWAT closet and add it to what you found,' " he said in the letter.
"I again was in fear of losing my job and felt obligated to do as instructed by my supervisor," he added.
The third incident White reported in his letter involved him accompanying his supervisor on a surveillance mission.
"I … observed my supervisor jump a chain link fence leading to the back yard of the residence and walk towards the front door," the letter said.
It states White had reason to believe the supervisor "did in fact enter the residence."
The internal investigation conducted by Police Department Lt. Jamie Grant determined White may have committed five criminal offenses and four violations of Crestview's city policy manual.
The criminal violations included: perjury, tampering with/or fabricating evidence, official misconduct, false report of the commission of a crime and trespassing.
The supervisor, left unnamed in White's letter, which can be read in all its corruptalicious splendor here (PDF), is identified by the newspaper as Sgt. Matthew Purvines, who says no way, no how, did he do any of that naughty stuff.
The allegation of planted evidence is especially intriguing, because it illustrates just how easy it is for police to come up with grounds for search warrants, considering that they usually have a ready supply of illegal stuff on hand. From the letter:
On a day between 2008 and 2010 I was conducting an investigation which involved trash pulls in order to obtain a search warrant for a residence. After a successful trash pull one more successful trash pull was needed. I conducted the trash pull and located a small amount of marijuana. I advised my supervisor of the my findings and my supervisor advised me :if I was in your shoes I'd get marijuana from the SWAT closet and add in to what you found." I was advised again if I mention what was said to anyone he/she would make sure that I was fired from the police department. I again was in fear of losing my job and felt obligated to do as instructed by my supervisor. The marijuana was located in a "dog box" which is identified as a metal container which houses items used to assist in the training of narcotics dogs.
White justifes his obedience to the illegal and unethical orders on the grounds that "[t]his supervisor in question used and still uses intimidation as a tool to control his subordinates and make them do things that he wants them to do."This is a department where former Street Crimes Union head Joseph Floyd has been charged with racketeering after, among other things, "he used his status as a police officer to solicit sexual acts," and one-time Police Chief Brian Mitchell was fired and now seeks reinstatement even as he alleges a host of illegal conduct by city officials.
If White's claims are true, the Crestview Police Department comes across as a … special working environment that puts any bad job I've ever had in perspective, even the one in which I had to report to the owner's office once a week and answer the question "Jer, who's king of the mountain?" with "You, Don. You're king of the mountain." But even if the Crestview PD is an outlier, work environment-wise, I have to imagine that's not the only department in which police can, with relative ease, gain access to forbidden items and substances to plant on targets. That's something we all knew aready, but this illustrates that reality in detail.
So far, White has been fired, but not yet arrested or charged, and there doesn't appear to have been any further fallout from his allegations.
(HT to the source who sent me this, left unnamed because he/she didn't specify a desire to be identified and I don't want to cause anybody difficulties in an interesting town.)
Update: Mike Riggs has already had much fun with Crestview and former Major Joseph Floyd.