A former Isle of Palms police officer twice pawned her service weapon and stole items from the evidence room, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
SLED agents arrested Dawn Caldwell, 45, Tuesday on charges of breach of trust with fraudulent intent and misconduct in office, Charleston County jail records show.
She was hired by North Charleston police June 9 and was completing in-house training at the time of her arrest, spokesman Spencer Pryor said. She was terminated by the department Tuesday.
Caldwell joined the Isle of Palms police in 1999 as a patrol officer and eventually rose to the rank of captain, according to city Administrator Linda Tucker.
She served as the department's evidence technician and also performed detective duties shortly before her arrest, authorities said.
Caldwell resigned from the department June 6 to work for North Charleston.
City officials on Tuesday said Caldwell's resignation had nothing to do with the allegations against her. She merely wanted to do something different, Tucker said.
Her departure, however, prompted Isle of Palms officials to conduct an audit of the city's evidence room, authorities said. A SLED investigation soon followed after officials uncovered discrepancies in paperwork filed by Caldwell.
Arrest affidavits released by SLED accused Caldwell of taking pieces of evidence that had been left in her charge and pawning them at Money Man Pawn Shop, 1104 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant. She falsified chain-of-custody logs and other paperwork to cover her tracks, according to SLED.
Money Man Pawn did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment regarding the business' handling of guns and other weapons.
Caldwell's alleged scheme bypassed the department's nationally accredited safeguards, allowing her to pawn in excess of $2,000 worth of evidence, authorities said.
According to the affidavits, she twice pawned a Glock pistol that was issued as an off-duty service weapon.
Tucker said she didn't know of a motive for Caldwell's alleged trips to the pawnshop. That aspect of the case is still under investigation, she said.
The incident wasn't the first time allegations surfaced against Caldwell.
In 2012, David Lynd, of Mesquite, Texas, contacted the department and complained that two of his Jet Skis recovered by Caldwell never made their way back to him.
"When I first met with that woman she was nice as can be, but she screwed up the paperwork," Lynd said. "She even admitted to her bosses that she screwed up, but they never did anything about it."
Police Chief Thomas Buckhannon acknowledged that the complaint was made to his department. But a SLED investigation that concluded later that year determined Lynd's allegations were unfounded and that no misconduct occurred, he said.
"SLED did not find anything other than that the appropriate procedures were followed," he said
If the case were to be reopened, SLED would handle that investigation,he said.
The Isle of Palms Police Department is taking on new protections in light of the situation. The city will now require two witness signatures to release evidence, Tucker said.
The city's Mayor Richard Cronin described Caldwell's alleged actions as "disappointing," but insisted that citizens have no reason to worry moving forward.
"The police chief and administrator put in the necessary action so citizens of the island can be certain that evidence will be safe in the future," Cronin said.
Caldwell is being held at Charleston County jail on $10,000 in bail.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.
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