POLICE PROBLEMS: Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty

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Past cases involving Officer Brandon Singleton could be in question following his arrest for possession of illegal drugs. Police say they found drugs in officer singleton's squad car after a hit and run accident Tuesday morning. It was his second crash in just a week. He's charged with possession of illegal substances - specifically meth and marijuana. Thursday he entered not guilty pleas to those charges.

“The fact that the person is charged with a crime certainly complicates it because obviously that adds another layer of scrutiny on to that officer’s investigation,” said Drake Law Professor Robert Rigg.

Drake Law Professor Bob Rigg says the charges against Officer Brandon singleton could lead some defense lawyers to dig up old cases in which Singleton was a witness.

“Defense lawyers are going to go back and look at their cases and say okay where is this officer involved, what level is he involved is he a foundation witness, is he a critical witness someone who handle evidence. Those types of analysis will take place on any case he touched,” said Rigg.

Rigg says how complicated it gets, as in will there be an appeal, depends on what type of case it is and the extent of singleton role. For example if the case is pending, the department can simply take Singleton off the case.

They can go back and review some of the cases he’s been involved in but again,” said Sgt. Scott with the Des Moines Police Department, “I think the question is going to be, most cases with drugs, there is more than one officer there.  It makes people more accountable.”

There is a chance, Rigg says, nothing changes. That's not unheard of. Two years ago pleasant hill police department dealt with a similar situation. Sgt. Daniel Edwards was charged with drug possession after he too crashed a department issued vehicle. None of Edwards’s cases were appealed.

“It certainly is sad when you see an officer have an issue like this. With our department it gave us an opportunity to evaluate our policies and procedures,” said Officer Adam Choat with the Pleasant Hill Police Department. He said the experience has changed the department's hiring practices.

Background checks are more thorough and evidence, like drugs and drug paraphernalia is secured differently.

“Another thing we decided was more important was to take an active interest in these officers’ lives. In their personal lives. That way we know what to look for when they are having a personal problem,” said Choat.

Officer Edwards, the former Pleasant Hill Officer, is now back in school. He plans to become a counselor for people dealing with post-traumatic stress.