WASHINGTON — THERE is an added, complicating twist to the Mary Williams story (see main story). Several packets of suspected cocaine found by fire investigators at the crack house after a fire there were not turned in by the police officer who seized them.
Shortly after the Nov. 5 fire, the Monitor sought confirmation of the fate of the suspected drugs. Police officials denied the Monitor access to property log books, where the suspected drugs should have been registered when turned in, refused an interview with the officer involved, and said that the case had been turned over to the police department's internal affairs office for investigation.
The Monitor independently reached the officer involved, Perry Singletary, at his home, where he is on suspension from the police force for reasons unrelated to this case.
Mr. Singletary said he threw the bags away after determining that they were waxy fakes of cocaine. He said he used a field test kit to determine the material was not an illegal drug.
Several veteran police officials asked about the case said that proper procedure would be to turn in the evidence - fake or not.
One police official who asked not to be identified, said that evidence procedures at this department are cumbersome and full of red tape and are seen as among ``the most commonly mishandled and mismanaged areas''in the police department. This is perhaps why Singletary's actions have come into question.
When saddled with evidence that will not lead to a prosecution, police often resort to throwing it away rather than having to go through the red tape of registering it on evidence books, said the police official.
With the huge volume of illegal drugs that police come in contact with out on the streets, uneven compliance with these evidence procedures lays the department open to both real and perceived corruption, say police sources.