Investigation of theft of evidence under close watch


First Posted: 1/29/2015

The investigation into the theft of items from the evidence room of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office must move forward without any hint of a conflict of interest among the involved parties.

In that regard, we give Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation high marks for their early handling of the case.

Tops on the list is Crish going public about the incident, the details which are stunning.

Only three people knew the code to open the combination lock that safeguards the entrance to the room. All three are respected members of the sheriff’s office. Their names have not been released, nor has the contents of what is missing, although it stands to reason it is something of significance. It also hasn’t been said how the items were discovered to be missing.

What has been made clear though is there was no sign of forced entry into the room.

“We can’t find the items. I don’t know what happened … I believe it’s more than just items being misplaced,” Crish told The Lima News.

The sheriff called the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation immediately after the items were discovered missing. BCI is a division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and is often called in to conduct an independent investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. No one from the Allen County’s sheriff’s office will be involved in the investigation.

We give Crish credit for taking an embarrassing situation and being open and forthright.

Many law enforcement agencies would have tried to keep such an investigation under wraps from the public for fear of what it would do to their reputation. Often when that happens it is just a matter of time before the transgression becomes public. In the process, the public rightly looks at the agency as withholding information and its credibility suffers.

It is not known how long the investigation will take, but some believe more information could be disclosed as early as this week or next.

When the investigation is over, BCI spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said the findings will be presented to the county prosecutor’s office. At that point, we would expect Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick to ask for a special prosecutor to handle the matter, again to avoid the appearance of conflict.

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