Six Glendale Police Officers disciplined for throwing away evidence connected to several cases

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Lights on a police vehicle.

The Glendale Police Department took disciplinary action against six sworn officers for mishandling evidence, which resulted in one case being dropped last month.

According to police documents, an internal affairs investigation found that the officers threw away pieces of evidence — like cannabis, pipes, and knives — related to several criminal cases in February.

The investigation was triggered after a lieutenant discovered a backpack in a trash can while searching for a missing doorbell camera in the department’s evidence room. The backpack contained a small amount of marijuana, pipes used for narcotics, a battery pack for a scooter, candy packaging, several folding knives, and prescription pill bottles.

“When we reviewed, the evidence technician was looking at the report and so was the detective putting together the case for the DA's office. They realized that there were a lot of things missing out of the report that weren't mentioned,” said Chuck Line, Glendale city manager. “And then, also things that were shown on the body cam and other types of records that we have in other people's reports that certain evidence was not logged into evidence.”

The items found in the backpack were connected to a case involving a stolen scooter at a Glendale hotel. One arrest was made in connection to the theft. The suspect had a long history of felonies and several outstanding warrants. The internal investigation said there were sixteen items in the backpack and only eight were logged into evidence and detailed reports. Seven were found in the trash can. The doorbell was never recovered.

The 18th District Attorney’s Office had to drop all charges against the suspect as a result.

“We notified the DA's office at that point that we have some issues with some of the cases — or in this case, it was just one case,” Line said. “And then, that spurred us looking at all other cases around that time period."

Line said the department has started reviewing old cases as well to check for issues. 

Another search of the trash can discovered a clear bag containing a counterfeit $50 bill and methamphetamine, a dark-colored clutch, two Colorado license plates, and a bag of medical supplies. Cases connected to those pieces of evidence were also dropped.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department conducted an external investigation to see if any laws were broken. Line said the officers would likely not be criminally charged.

“We have gotten an indication from Arapahoe County that there is not going to be any charges filed in this case against any of the officers. But that doesn't mean that policies weren't violated,” Line said.

Violations include minor ones like failing to file a report on time to major violations like compromising criminal cases.  One officer was terminated. A sergeant was demoted. Another officer was suspended for nine days without pay. Three other officers received counseling.

Line said the Glendale PD will work with the district attorney’s office in training to help improve procedures when handling evidence.

“We're going to have them review our procedures,” Line said. “And also they're going to help do training for all our officers to figure out how they can also better log this evidence, put it in their report to be able to aid the prosecutor.” 

Line hopes to regain trust in the Glendale Police Department from the city’s residents.

“That they can have faith that we also police ourselves and that we have no problem putting ourselves under scrutiny when we find something that we've done incorrectly,” Line said.