Salisbury officer suspended, two employees cleared, one retires amidst four internal investigations

100% Inventory of Property Room under supervision of independent forensic auditor in partnership with Maryland State Police

May 8, 2020

SALISBURY, Md. – City officials gave an update on Thursday regarding four separate investigations involving members of the city's police department.

"We also want to reassure the public that their law enforcement officers can and should be trusted at all times and when they fail, there will be accountability," says Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan.

Chief Barbara Duncan announced that an internal investigation has been launched into an officer who was arrested in another jurisdiction this month. "He was immediately suspended upon release from custody," says Duncan. "His access has been restricted to the agency and his internal investigation interview is scheduled for later this month."

47 ABC also learned that arguably the biggest investigation into theft from the department's property room is on hold. "This criminal investigation has been placed on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our internal investigatory efforts have also been placed on hold as a result," says Duncan.

Meanwhile, the internal investigation into alleged mishandling of evidence for a 2011 case is partially wrapped up for two of the three employees. "The results of our investigation regarding those two individuals, the official classification of the investigation was categorized as not sustained," says Duncan.

The third department employee has chosen to retire but has not been cleared in that investigation. Duncan tells 47 ABC that all three officers could still face federal charges.

Moving forward, the mayor says he hopes this makes it clear that no one is above the law. "The Salisbury Police Department is an agency made up of human beings and human beings make mistakes but when those mistakes cross a legal or ethical line no title, no badge, no employment or allegiance will prevent justice from prevailing," says Salisbury Mayor Jake Day.

Officials also gave an update on the December 2019 case involving an officer arrested for assault in Delaware. The officer's preliminary hearing was set for May 4th but the pandemic has forced that to be postponed. That employee is still suspended without pay.

A majority of Thursday's press conference focused on the department's comprehensive plan known as The Trust Rebuilding Initiative. Part of it involves creating a new property area and assigning new staff to it, both of which have already been done. They're also looking to hire an auditor within the next month to inventory the original property room. Once that happens, the audit of the original room with start.

The initiative is written to reflect the core values of the agency: Partnership, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Empowerment. Officials say by focusing on these ideals, the plan establishes this clear and concise set of guidelines for the agency, all aimed at restoring public confidence:

  • 100% Inventory of Property Room under supervision of independent forensic auditor in partnership with Maryland State Police, Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office and Office of the Public Defender
  • Revive the Citizen Police Academy
  • Stand up a Criminal Justice Task Force to propose City, County and State institutional changes to law, policy and procedure
  • Update Property Room Staff Structure & Authorities
  • Update Property/Evidence Policies & Procedures
  • Subsequently Reduce/Destroy Non-Essential Property
  • Launch Police Complaint Mediation Program
  • Launch New Pathways for Citizen Complaints
  • Launch Citizen Review of Police Department Policies
  • Continue/Expand Community Relationship Building
  • Continue Youth Engagement
  • Explore and Launch New Deployment Tactics
  • Field a Community Policing Team
  • Maintain Focus on and Successes in Crime Reduction
  • Expand Upstream policing with Data-driven decision making
  • Improve Recruiting/Retention with Public Safety tax incentives, expanded benefits package
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