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Police examine N.C. officers' actions at old station

Staff Writers

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is investigating at least two officers in the department's Westover division who officials say kept a PlayStation and adult magazines in a former police office.

The building has been used as a storage area for police bikes and the division's gifts for the Explorer Christmas Project, according to a memo from Police Chief Darrel Stephens to City Manager Pam Syfert.

But officers were allegedly inside for as much as an hour at a time, the memo said.

Inside the building: three televisions, a microwave oven, a PlayStation video game system with eight games, and magazines, some with adult content.

A WSOC-TV reporter was preparing a report on items found in the building, the memo stated. Syfert released the memo at Monday's City Council meeting.

"I don't know enough about it, and neither does the police chief, to talk about what is completely going on in terms of what people will be disciplined," Syfert told the council. "The chief takes this very seriously. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior, especially in this time when we need all our police officers doing their job."

Syfert said it is unclear whether officers were on or off duty when at the facility.

The unauthorized satellite office is on the lower level of the former Westover Division office on South Tryon Street. It has no police signs and isn't accessible to the public. The Westover division office is now located on West Boulevard.

Stephens told the Observer he learned of the situation late last week, but said it came to the attention of district supervisors slightly before then.

Westover division authorities are collecting keys to the South Tryon facility from officers, the memo says, and are changing the locks.

That division has experienced the department's largest rise in violent crime this year, police records show, up 35 percent through the end of September compared to the same time last year. The city's overall violent crime rose 5.8 percent in that time.

When asked about the increase in crime there, Stephens said the storage space controversy had nothing to do with the crime increase in the area.

When asked why, he said, "Because it doesn't." He declined to elaborate.

 Charlotte Observer (http://www.charlotte.com/)

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