logo



Comptroller: Mountain City police mishandled evidence, including drugs

Becky Campbell • Updated Mar 29, 2018 at 6:07 PM

MOUNTAIN CITY — More trouble is haunting the Mountain City Police Department.

First, it was two officers charged with drug crimes. Now, the state has found concerns with how police handle evidence, including drugs.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office released a report from its investigation into the MCPD’s property and evidence room. The Comptroller’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation soon after officers’ arrests in November.

Police Chief Denver Church responded to the inquiry and in the report he stated he had taken steps to improve the procedures and security of the evidence room.

Church said there was “correction made of complete inventory and a new inventory log has been made with the proper information.” In addition to a new log, the department installed an evidence drop box that is monitored via security cameras. There is now limited access to the evidence by only the evidence custodian as well as a log of anyone who enters the evidence room.

“I am in the process of going through evidence to get court order to destroy evidence that is no longer needed in accordance to state law,” Church wrote in his statement.

Calls to Church’s office were not immediately returned Thursday.

The Comptroller’s Office and the TBI performed an inventory of selected items held in the police department’s evidence room Nov. 9. Investigators compared the department’s inventory log with the items actually in department custody. They determined the inventory log was unreliable and incomplete, according to the report.

In some cases, evidence bags had been cut open and drugs were missing.

Investigators were unable to determine what happened to the seized property because it was not clear who had been in the evidence room. The report indicated that the evidence log “lacked sufficient information. In many instances, the evidence log did not include incident numbers, defendants’ names, dates the evidence was submitted or received, or the disposition.”

Former Lt. Ronald Glen Shupe was sentenced earlier this month to more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to distributing and taking narcotics while on duty. He pleaded guilty in November as part of an agreement with prosecutors to charges of possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone, a schedule II controlled substance, and the use of a firearm during and related to a drug trafficking offense.

His arrest led to the arrest of another Mountain City officer. Sgt. Ken Lane, 61, was taken into custody Nov. 9, 2017.

Elmer Kenneth “Ken” Lane, 61, was charged in state court with conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone, solicitation to commit delivery of schedule II drugs (oxycodone) and simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine).

Lane was later charged in a single-count federal indictment charging him with possessing weapons while being an “unlawful user and addict of a control substance.” The indictment also stated the weapons were “shipped and transported in interstate commerce.”

The Comptroller’s Office reported that the MCPD failed to include all seized property on the inventory log, and it failed to include information such as incident numbers, defendants’ names, and dates on the inventory log.

The report also said Mountain City police should also identify drug evidence and weapons which are no longer needed. State law requires these items to be disposed of in accordance with a court order.

“Police officials have a responsibility to secure and account for all seized property,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a news release. “Poor evidence control may jeopardize judicial proceedings and invite the risk of theft. I’m pleased to see the Chief is taking steps to address the problems.”

Both Lane and Shupe were fired from the MCPD.

——

Reported earlier:

MOUNTAIN CITY — More trouble is haunting the Mountain City Police Department.

First, it was two officers charged with drug crimes. Now, the state has found concerns with how police handle evidence, including drugs.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office released a report from its investigation into the MCPD’s property and evidence room. The Comptroller’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation soon after officers’ arrests in November.

The Comptroller’s Office and the TBI performed an inventory of selected items held in the police department’s evidence room Nov. 9. Investigators compared the department’s inventory log with the items actually in department custody. They determined the inventory log was unreliable and incomplete, according to the report.

In some cases, evidence bags had been cut open and drugs were missing.

Investigators were unable to determine what happened to the seized property because it was not clear who had been in the evidence room.

Former Lt. Ronald Glen Shupe was sentenced earlier this month to more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to distributing and taking narcotics while on duty. He pleaded guilty in November as part of an agreement with prosecutors to charges of possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone, a schedule II controlled substance, and the use of a firearm during and related to a drug trafficking offense.

His arrest led to the arrest of another Mountain City officer. Sgt. Ken Lane, 61, was taken into custody Nov. 9, 2017. 

Elmer Kenneth “Ken” Lane, 61, was charged in state court with conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone, solicitation to commit delivery of schedule II drugs (oxycodone) and simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine).

Lane was later charged a single-count federal indictment charging him with possessing weapons while being an “unlawful user and addict of a control substance.” The indictment also stated the weapons were “shipped and transported in interstate commerce.”

The Comptroller’s Office reported that the MCPD failed to include all seized property on the inventory log, and it failed to include information such as incident numbers, defendants’ names, and dates on the inventory log.

The report also said Mountain City police should also identify drug evidence and weapons which are no longer needed. State law requires these items to be disposed of in accordance with a court order.

“Police officials have a responsibility to secure and account for all seized property,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a news release. “Poor evidence control may jeopardize judicial proceedings and invite the risk of theft. I’m pleased to see the Chief is taking steps to address the problems.”

Both Lane and Shupe were fired from the MCPD.

Keep visiting JohnsonCityPress.com for more on this developing story.

Johnson City Press Videos