Tuesday, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) arrested former Isle of Palms Police Captain Dawn Michelle 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.
In a press release, SLED said that Caldwell pawned “a number of items” including Glock firearms twice, including her service weapon for an overall value of more than $2000.
Caldwell was chosen as Officer of the Year in 2009 by the IOP Exchange Club for her work in solving several burglaries. She had been with the department since 1999.
The incidents involving the alleged pawning happened between Dec. 2009 and Dec. 2013, SLED said.
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.