REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WCMH)–In the personnel file of Reynoldsburg Police Officer Tye Downard, there’s a stack of commendations and thank you letters, even a recording of a phone call from a resident thankful that Downard chased a drug dealer off her street.
There’s also a disciplinary write-up from last August regarding evidence handling.
According to the entry, Downard had picked up two boxes of property at the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. “He did not inventory the property prior to taking custody. He also did not have the person releasing the property sign the chain of custody form.” And when Downard returned to Reynoldsburg, “It was discovered three property items were missing and all three contained crack cocaine”
The drugs were never located.
Reynoldsburg Police Chief Jim O’Neill says at the time it was unknown what had happened to the drugs and there was no reason to suspect Downard.
Downard was arrested by the FBI last week on charges that he repeatedly skimmed drugs from police drug busts and arranged to provide them to another person for sale on the street.
Downard committed suicide in jail over the weekend. Two more Reynoldsburg officers have been placed on administrative leave.
Forty-year Reynoldsburg resident Warren Thompson says he’s always had a lot of faith in the police department but he now wonders whether there’s a systemic problem.
“It troubles me that it could go on with several people and not be detected,” Thompson said.
And resident Kathy Waldeck asks, who can you trust if not the police?
“The community can’t believe this is happening,” Waldeck said. “It’s a quiet community. We all get along. This was all just a great surprise.”
Chief O’Neill has said he does not believe there’s a widespread problem in the department. He promises to to get to the root cause of what happened, to fix whatever needs fixing and to work to regain the public trust.