Friday, January 31, 2014

Veteran Officer Rodney Williams Charged with Stealing from Evidence Room

A D.C. police officer with 24 years on the force was charged Thursday with stealing property from an evidence room, according to the department.

Officer Rodney Williams was charged with one count of second-degree theft and has an appearance scheduled in D.C. Superior Court on Feb. 20. He was issued a criminal citation and set free.

Officer Araz Alali, a D.C. police spokesman, said members of the Internal Affairs Division arrested Williams on Thursday after a tip from another police employee. He said the theft occurred from the Evidence Control Branch, located in Southwest Washington, where the officer had been assigned.

Police would not disclose which items were stolen. The evidence branch handles about 100,000 items that are either seized or recovered by police throughout any given year. Items include evidence from crime scenes, found property and possessions from a person found deceased.

The arrest comes just days after D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier testified before the D.C. Council’s public safety committee about a spate of recent arrests of officers that includes one charged with running a prostitution ring involving minors out of his apartment. Another officer was recently charged with taking semi-nude pictures of a teenaged girl; his body was found in the Washington Channel last month in what police have said was an apparent suicide.

Lanier has complained that several officers she has fired were ordered back during an appeals process, and she asked lawmakers to help change the law to strengthen her ability to terminate officers convicted of crimes. She also has said many officers recently arrested graduated from the academy in 1989 and 1990, a time when hiring standards were lowered to quickly boost the size of the force. Williams was in the 1990 class.

The chief has said many of the officers hired then would not be hired under tougher standards in place today. At the Council hearing Jan. 24, Lanier said 47 District officers have been convicted of crimes since 2009. There were four in 2013, eight in 2012, 20 in 2011, 10 in 2010 and five in 2009.

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