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Michael Palmer, West Columbia Police Chief, Accused of Stealing Drugs from Ongoing Cases

After being accused of swiping pills from his department's ongoing investigations, West Columbia Police Chief Michael Palmer has been jailed for drug possession and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. The chief, currently suspended, was arrested Thursday and placed in Brazoria County Jail. His bond is set at $100,000.

The chief has been the subject of investigation since the beginning of February. According to documents from the Brazoria County district attorney's office, Palmer has been accused of taking pills from evidence collected since at least March 2012.

"The integrity of the criminal justice system is of utmost importance," Brazoria County District Attorney Jeri Yenne wrote in a statement. "The fine men and women employees of the West Columbia Police Department were placed in an unbearable situation. The officers did the right thing and reported this illegal activity."

The West Columbia Police Department did not immediately return phone calls asking for comment.

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The earliest instance of Palmer's suspicious behavior arose in March 2012, when 33 oxymorphone pills went missing, causing an ongoing case to be dismissed due to evidence discrepancies. A pair of hospice incidents within the last two months also resulted in missing fentanyl patches and methadone pills, some of which were seen in Palmer's vehicle.

After an investigator was enlisted in early February, a video emerged purportedly showing Palmer removing a package from the evidence room and "then several minutes later appear[ing] on camera to go to the dumpster outside and appear[ing] to [rip] up the packaging." After a handful of further pill-related incidents, Palmer allegedly told Detective Sergeant J. Dvorak that he had given certain of the pills to a family member and that the attendant report "needed to reflect that the pills were destroyed."

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