The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 7, 2012

The darkest side

The Register-Herald

BECKLEY — A now former employee of the Beckley City Police Department has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of taking prescription pills that were being stored as evidence in drug cases and investigations.

With pills taken from what was thought to be a secured environment, the acts of this evidence room technician not only shake the foundation of law enforcement, but also deliver us with a steely-eyed look into just how deep, how serious the prescription drug crisis really is.

What took place is certainly crushing on a number of fronts.

We can’t imagine the range of emotions that the many BPD officers committed to battling this epidemic have had since the news came forward that numerous drug probes have been swept out the door by the tampering that was done to the chain of evidence.

No real hard and fast numbers have been put out there as to just how many investigations and prosecutions were compromised, but it is surely dozens, maybe hundreds.

Police officers put their lives on the line every day in the normal line of duty. When you start talking about drug investigations, the chances of them being injured, or even killed, are heightened dramatically.

So just when it seemed like they were taking more drug dealers off our streets, these miscreants have to be set free.

The public’s trust has also been severely damaged.

While the U.S. Attorney believes the violations of law in this case begin and end with the one evidence room technician, the shadow cast unfortunately covers many.

And then you must consider what was driving the employee. Was it addiction? For financial gain? There was a problem, another example of how drugs can make good turn bad.

This event reveals perhaps the darkest side of the fight we face against drugs.

What happened here is deeply saddening. Yet this should only serve to strengthen our resolve as a society to keep the focus on the problem all the time.

For as soon as we turn our backs, just one time, the evil will jump right back in.