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Nanaimo RCMP launch probe into lost evidence from drug investigation

Feb 23 2012

Nanaimo RCMP say evidence from a drug investigation - $10,000 in cash and a small amount of cocaine - has gone missing after a constable allegedly failed to store the evidence properly.

RCMP discovered in December that the cash and 0.3 grams of cocaine were missing. They were being stored in a temporary exhibit locker, where evidence that has yet to be properly examined or catalogued is kept before being moved to the main exhibit area, commanding officer Supt. Norm McPhail said.

McPhail said a code of conduct investigation under the Police Act has been launched amid allegations that a constable with eight years service mishandled the seized property, which caused it to go missing.

The department said a criminal investigation, focused internally, is being handled by RCMP officers in Victoria to determine whether the exhibits were stolen.

The constable was notified of the Police Act investigation Wednesday and has been assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome.

"Allegations of misconduct by our employees are extremely troubling - troubling to the public and troubling to me," McPhail said in a statement. "But also troubling to the over 9,000 RCMP employees in B.C. who have the highest moral and ethical standards."

McPhail said Nanaimo RCMP have made changes to how evidence is handled. Now, sensitive evidence such as drugs and cash are catalogued as soon as possible and dropped into a secure drop box which the investigator on the file can no longer access.

McPhail would not say when the evidence was seized in relation to the drug investigation or whether that investigation will be hampered because of the lost evidence.

The revelation comes a week after Victoria police discovered that a cache of riot gear, including a Remington shotgun, tactical vests and tear gas, had disappeared. Victoria police are still investigating what happened to the equipment.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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