June 18, 2023
A former Garden City Police Department detective who mishandled evidence, including drugs, from a "high-profile homicide" — keeping some of it in a private storage unit — has had his police certification revoked, according to a state agency that oversees accreditation.
Scott Birney even threw items in the trash after officers started to investigate the missing evidence, according to a Kansas Commission on Peace Officers' Standards and Training (KSCPOST) investigative report.
Birney, who worked for the Garden City Police Department from January 2009 to June 2022, had his certification revoked in May. The evidence kept in his private storage unit and in lockers at the department was found in March 2021, according to KSCPOST and Garden City attorney Jennifer Cunningham.
A number associated with Birney wasn't answered nor a message returned.
The KSCPOST report gives some details on what happened:
Garden City police investigators noticed that evidence was missing. It had been sent back from the lab after a "high-profile homicide" several years earlier.
Birney had taken homicide evidence "off-site to his private storage unit, along with personal items and old paperwork." When police questioned where the items were, Birney went and got some items, "opened the box it was mailed in," and then turned it in.
Police also learned Birney had "stored evidence in temporary lockers for multiple years without ever entering it or cataloging."
KSCPOST said the lockers were at the police department.
"The lockers were breached as part of the investigation," the report says. "Once the items were discovered, (Birney) threw the contents of one locker in the trash. The discarded items included laptop computers, phones with cords, drugs paraphernalia and other items (Birney) could not remember."
Birney was "instructed to retrieve the items. He did so and then entered the items into evidence."
In another locker, Birney kept 14 grams of heroin for two to three years, the report says.
"Once the locker was breached, (Birney) placed the drugs in a cabinet that was not secure."
It's unclear what homicide was mentioned in the investigative report. It's also unclear why Birney was allowed to be there and throw out items while officers investigated the missing evidence.
Cunningham said she couldn't answer those questions because that would jeopardize the homicide investigation, which is in the early stages and is being "heavily investigated."
"We would be putting someone in danger if we gave you this information," she said.
She said Birney had been working on the homicide case but was not the lead investigator. She said all the evidence was from the same case. The police department and Finney County Attorney's Office has worked to "assess any and all cases that Mr. Birney worked" as an officer to see if anything is missing or compromised, she said.
The Finney County Attorney's Office did not respond to questions about whether Birney will face any charges.
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