ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division arrested former Isle of Palms police captain Dawn Caldwell who is accused of selling evidence and her service weapon to a pawn shop while she was still employed with the police department.
Caldwell, 45, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent over $2,000 and misconduct in office in connection with alleged falsification of items while she worked as an evidence technician for the department, according to city officials. Caldwell was released on a $10,000 PR bond Tuesday evening.
A press release by the City of Isle of Palms stated that the situation came to their attention after an audit of the evidence room, at which time the Isle of Palms Police Chief Thomas Buckhannon requested that SLED conduct an investigation.
Court records state that Caldwell, while employed as a police captain at the Isle of Palms Police Department, fraudulently pawned and sold a number of items taken from the police department's evidence room to the Money Man pawn shop between December 2009 and December 2013.
According to affidavits, among the items she pawned was a glock pistol that was issued to her as a service weapon by the police department. Authorities say Caldwell pawned the gun on two occasions.
The items that were pawned and sold to the pawn shop were valued over $2,000. Officials with the Isle of Palms Police Department say it does not appear as of yet that any cases have been compromised due to the incident.
"A very sad day at the Isle of Palms reviewing what has occurred when an officer steps out of bounds like this," said Chief of Police Thomas Buckhannon during a press conference Tuesday afternoon."This is not something you expect out of any public safety officer."
Caldwell was originally hired as a patrol officer with IOP PD in 1999 and resigned from the department as an evidence officer on June 6, 2014. She was then hired as a police officer with the North Charleston Police Department on June 9.
NCPD officials say Caldwell was completing in-house training at the time of her employment and was fired on Tuesday.
The City of Isle of Palms released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
Today, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) arrested former Isle of Palms Police Captain Dawn Caldwell, 45, on charges of Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent over $2,000 and Misconduct in Office in connection with alleged falsification of items while the officer worked as evidence technician for the department.
The situation came to the City's attention after an audit of the City's evidence room, at which time the Isle of Palms Police Chief Thomas Buckhannon requested that SLED conduct an investigation.
The City has a secure evidence room with extremely limited access, including an alarm system and coded door for entry. A primary evidence custodian receives evidence, secures and maintains evidence in a property room, and releases evidence under appropriate conditions.
The City's processes for protecting evidence met the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) standards, national standards, and property standards. In this case, the apparent falsification of records by one individual circumvented multiple safeguards.
To help prevent any future occurrence, the City has strengthened its processes for release of evidence to now require two witnesses for release of evidence.
Thomas Buckhannon, Chief of Police, says "We have identified the mistake and taken the necessary steps. The citizens of the island can rest assured that we are committed to providing the best services possible."