Evidence in a number of criminal cases has apparently disappeared in Alton. Alton Police are cooperating in an investigation with the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Illinois State Police and the FBI in the mishandling of evidence. In addition to the outside investigation, the Alton Police have opened an internal investigation of its own.
Alton Mayor Berant Walker:
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Alton Police Chief Jason Simmons declined to comment on what kind of evidence has disappeared, but released the following statement:
"The Alton Police are currently cooperating fully with the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Illinois State Police and the FBI in an investigation of the mishandling of evidence. This is a very serious situation and we will maintain our transparency and continue to cooperate with any investigation surrounding this incident.
The men and women of the Alton Police Department some of the most professional and dedicated officers I have ever worked with. I do not want this incident to overshadow the outstanding work of The Alton Police over the last year.
In addition to cooperating fully with external investigations, the Alton Police have opened an internal investigation of this allegation. I am committed to obtaining all of the facts surrounding this incident in a timely manner and I, with the help of the Madison County State’s Attorney and my staff, am reviewing and revising internal policies that have been in place for many years to ensure this type of incident does not happen again within the Alton Police Department."
Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons:
"On July 23rd, 2014, it was brought to the attention of the Madison County State's Attorney's Office that items of evidence from pending criminal cases had been improperly disposed of by the evidence officer for the Alton Police Department. Upon learning of this situation, I reached out to U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton, the Illinois State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to assist with an investigation. Our office was also in consultation with Mayor Walker and the City Attorney, as well as the leadership of the Alton Police Department, who were fully cooperative and supportive of all our efforts to determine the scope of the loss of evidence and the cause of this serious problem.
This morning, the State's Attorney's Office filed notice in 130 criminal cases, advising defendants and their attorneys of the destruction of evidence in their case(s). As the chief law enforcement officer for Madison County It is my constitutional and ethical obligation to ensure that justice and fairness are always given the highest priority and guarantee in our criminal justice system, and in this matter, that begins by giving criminal defendants full and fair disclosure of the destruction of evidence in their cases.
At this time, we do not know the extent of the loss of evidence, and it will still take some time for the investigative team to complete their full audit of the tens of thousands of pieces of evidence remaining in the vault. As that process continues, we will take all necessary steps to ensure the integrity of all evidence that remains in the vault and to determine the cause of this serious situation. If the investigation reveals evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we will take appropriate action.
I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois, the Illinois State Police, The Federal Bureau of Investigations and Mayor Walker and his staff for their hard work and commitment to fully investigating and resolving this serious situation."