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story.lead_photo.caption Brian Key

LINCOLN -- State police arrested former Lincoln Police Chief Brian Key on Thursday on drug-related charges.

Key, 41, is accused of tampering with physical evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia, both felonies. He was booked and released from the Washington County jail on $1,500 bond. Key is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 26.

Key altered, destroyed, suppressed, removed or concealed records or other items with the purpose of impairing an investigation in late October, according to an arrest warrant.

Mayor Rob Hulse fired Key on Oct. 27, three days after Hulse placed him on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Assistant Chief Russell Morphis was named acting police chief.

Key was promoted to chief Aug. 22.

According to Sgt. Kevin Brown, the Arkansas State Police opened an investigation Sept. 25 into possible mishandling of evidence by Key.

Brown said he spoke with Morphis after Key was placed on leave, and Morphis said he was concerned about missing evidence.

Officer Zeb Rone told Brown that he seized 12 prescription Xanax pills during a traffic stop and placed the pills in a drawer in the agency's squad room.

Rone said that when he went to get the pills to process them into the Police Department's evidence room, he found only three pills in the drawer. Morphis requested the surveillance video from the day in question and the video showed Key opening the drawer and removing an item, which he concealed in his hand, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also said that surveillance video showed Key prying open a locker belonging to officer Jeremy Brown and removing an envelope. A subsequent search of Key's office turned up a manila envelope with the initials "JB" on it, the affidavit said. The envelope listed the contents as a glass pipe with residue. The pipe wasn't in the envelope and couldn't be found in the office, the affidavit said.

Also found in the office was a small plastic bag with what appeared to be crushed pills in it, the affidavit said.

Brown reported that he was contacted by Morphis on Nov. 8, and Morphis said he had found numerous drug-related items in Key's police vehicle, which was used only by Key. Brown searched the vehicle and found drug paraphernalia.

Metro on 12/17/2018

Print Headline: Former Lincoln police chief faces charges

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