Investigators look into how illegal drugs were stolen
By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
May 7, 2002
A Meridian police officer was charged Monday in Clarke County with illegal possession of cocaine and illegal possession of crystal methamphetamine.
Officer Donald Morgan posted a $10,000 bond and was released from the Clarke County jail.
The charges both specify "illegal" possession of drugs. This is because Morgan's K9 partner is trained in apprehension and narcotics detection, and has periodic practice sessions involving actual illegal drugs.
Police Chief Benny DuBose held a press conference Monday to announce the results of a drug raid at Morgan's Clarke County home over the weekend.
Morgan was on duty at the time. He was transported to a local hospital. A search of Morgan's patrol car turned up several bottles of unauthorized narcotics and drug paraphernalia.
A subsequent search of Morgan's home turned up more illegal drugs.
Morgan has been suspended without pay pending termination.
The city's drug
City Risk Manager Buck Thomas is the city employee currently charged with running the random drug testing program.
Thomas said it is the city's policy to screen about 50 percent of its 540 employees over the course of each year at Rush Foundation Hospital.
The hospital has a list of all city employees' Social Security numbers. Once a month, a list of 23 Social Security numbers is generated randomly and sent to city officials. Those employees report for drug testing.
Thomas has been in charge of the program since February. In that time, he said, no one has tested positive.
He said police officers are not tested any more often than any other city employees but penalties for drug use can be stiffer for people designated as "public safety officers."
Police officers can be immediately terminated the first time they test positive. Thomas said employees in other classifications are automatically referred to the Employee Assistance Program.
Changes at the
Illegal drugs used to train canine officers are kept in a safe at the Meridian Police Department's training facility on Sand Flat Road. Capt. Keith McCary supervises police training.
He said he does not know how Morgan got access to the safe. As far as he knew, only one person had the combination Senior Patrol Officer Steve Shepherd, who trains dogs and their handlers.
McCary said he called Shepherd one time in January for the combination to the safe, but opened it only once and did not make note of the combination. Morgan was present at the time.
McCary also said that Morgan did not have a key to the building, and entry after hours would have set off an alarm system.
The bottom line is that police investigators are not yet sure how drugs came up missing, but procedural changes are probable.
The police chief is in the process of terminating Morgan's employment at the Meridian Police Department. His case is expected to be presented to a Clarke County grand jury.