(INCLUDES PDF) A Sandusky police officer caught with 50 grams of methamphetamine in his locker last year was using the drugs to train his police dog, his supervisors said.
James DeSalle, a 12-year Sandusky police veteran, never told his supervisors he had the drugs.
They discovered the material only after cleaning out his police locker when he was reassigned to another position. As a result, DeSalle received a letter of reprimand in July 2009.
Interim police Chief Jim Lang is conducting a pre-disciplinary hearing on Monday for an unrelated matter involving DeSalle — he’s accused of chewing tobacco on duty last month, a violation of department policy.
DeSalle had been Sandusky’s police-dog handler until last summer, when he was reassigned because he repeatedly called off at night and on weekends, according to his personnel file.
While conducting an inventory of his locker at the time, supervisors discovered the 50 grams of methamphetamine.
The drugs were never assigned to DeSalle, according to his personnel file, and he apparently acted alone to obtain the drugs.
He later told his superiors he was using the drugs to train Justice, the police dog.
On Friday, DeSalle’s colleague offered an explanation.
Robert McDowell, a certified police-dog trainer for the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, said he gave the drugs to DeSalle.
McDowell, also a Huron County prosecutor’s investigator, said he helped prepare Justice for a drug-investigation certification.
“Sandusky had no meth to get the dog certified with,” McDowell said. “You have to use real drugs when certified.”
McDowell said he ordered the drugs from police detectives in Georgia, and a judge in that state approved the transfer of the drugs, which were evidence from a closed case.
Sandusky police should still have the paperwork detailing the chain of custody for the drugs, McDowell said, adding that the drug were provided to DeSalle in a sealed evidence bag.
Also on Friday, Sandusky police said they could not locate that paperwork. They promised additional documents will be provided Monday.
Among those documents is an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation report verifying the quantity of drugs that were found in DeSalle’s locker.
There was no money exchanged for the transfer of the methamphetamine, police said.
There was also no indication DeSalle tried to use or sell the drugs, so he was never tested for illegal substances, police said.
The quantity of methamphetamines — 50 grams — is a standard amount used to train police dogs in large drug seizures, McDowell said. The dogs become overwhelmed and act different when they smell a large quantity of drugs, as opposed to a small amount.
Sandusky police did provide an undated and unsigned timeline they said Sandusky police Lt. Max Jarrett — DeSalle’s supervisor — wrote regarding the investigation at the time.
Interim city manager Don Icsman said the city’s administrators were notified about the incident when it happened, but he was never completely familiar with the details.
Matt Kline was city manager at the time and Charlie Sams was interim police chief.
Kline has since been fired and Sams is no longer interim chief.
Icsman said he doesn’t want to second-guess the police investigation.
“I would have to know more about it,” he said. “Maybe I wouldn’t have handled it identically, but it’s not a call I made.”