Polk sheriff’s officer fired after admitting to taking evidence

Published 6:53 pm Friday, December 11, 2015


By Leah Justice


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A Polk County Sheriff’s officer was fired Thursday, Dec. 10  and an audit of the evidence room is currently being conducted after the officer admitted to taking evidence.

Sgt. Chris Byers was put on leave in November after making the admission and a full investigation began, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office, District Attorney Greg Newman and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) are investigating the case.

“Sgt. Chris Byers’ employment was terminated yesterday (Thursday) due to policy violations relating to the handling of evidence,” states a sheriff’s office release. “We believe the amount of the evidence that is in question is very small.”

Byers was the head of the evidence and property room and told the sheriff’s office he had a substance abuse problem when he reported his potential misconduct, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We learned of the policy violations through Beyers’ own admission and a full investigation was launched at the time,” said Lt. Lowell Griffin on Friday. “The District Attorney’s Office, the NCSBI and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office all learned of the information within hours of the initial report and have worked in conjunction with each other since the inception of this case.”

Byers’ attorney Steve Lindsay said Byers came forward due to a substance abuse problem and this is not a situation where it was discovered by the sheriff’s office. He said everyone is working together to make sure Byers receives the treatment he needs and the administrative of justice is not compromised.

Griffin said Byers has been completely cooperative throughout the investigation.

An independent company is conducting an audit of the evidence at the sheriff’s office, Griffin said. The audit began on Friday and could take a few weeks to complete.