8:53 a.m. PDT April 30, 2016
Police department command staff initiated an investigation into evidence logging and efficiency earlier this year. After hiring a third-party company to dig into their evidence policy and procedures, the company found several issues, Sgt. Andy Garcia said.
The independent audit was part of guidelines to meet state law enforcement standards.
The company found items missing or tampered with and notified detectives within the Tulare Police Department. Two months after the audit began, police put two evidence technicians on paid administrative leave.
The department handed over the criminal investigation to Tulare County Sheriff's detectives on April 26 and on Friday, Gary Coffman, 45, was arrested in connection with evidence tampering, embezzlement and possession of a controlled substance while armed.
It's not known what implications, if any, this will have on the cases or evidence he handled.
The second technician, whose name was not released, has not been arrested. However, he remains on leave pending the outcome of an investigation by deputies. Coffman is being held on $50,000 bail. He has been with Tulare police for 18 years.
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