Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Southborough Stash

"Southborough police holding drugs seized as far back as 1992" by Shaun Sutner |  Worcester Telegram & Gazette, June 24, 2013

SOUTHBOROUGH— The Police Department in this affluent town has stockpiled hundreds of seized drugs from as long ago as 1992, an unusual practice that has raised suspicion that drugs could be missing or at risk of theft.

Seized evidence samples that are being kept at the police station include heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and Ecstasy; prescription medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Xanax; as well as paraphernalia such as crack pipes and grinders, according to a list of 745 seized items obtained by the Telegram & Gazette under the state’s public records law.

The 16-page list includes drugs seized between 1996 and April 2013, but a list of items recently submitted to the office of Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. also includes drugs seized as far back as 1992.

Unlike most police departments, which destroy unneeded drug evidence on a regular schedule after seeking a judge’s approval as required by state law, the Southborough police have apparently held onto their entire cache of evidence, even after a suspected theft of drug evidence in 2004.

State laws that govern the destruction of drug evidence do not require drugs to be eliminated on a specific timetable....

The stockpiling of evidence at the Southborough police station was brought to light by a former Southborough police sergeant and president of the local officers union, Michael M. Crenshaw, who left the department because of a disability in 2011 and was later terminated for insubordination.

He has since become a persistent critic of the department.

Among the numerous public records Crenshaw has received after filing requests under the law is a 2004 report by a State Police sergeant on the case of 14 one-gram bags of cocaine that went missing from Southborough police custody after an arrest.

The cocaine was never found, no suspect or cause was pinpointed, and the State Police investigator determined there was no cause for criminal action because there were no obvious signs of tampering or forceful entry into a temporary storage locker or the evidence room....

Maybe someone should call a quorum.