By Brett Gillin
When drugs went missing from a police department’s evidence room in Prescott Valley Arizona, investigators knew something was wrong. Little did they know that their investigation would lead to a commander with the Prescott Valley Police Department resigning and a police force left wondering how addiction can strike where they least expect it.
Commander Arthur Askew resigned from his position with the Prescott Valley Police Department when allegations surfaced that he had stolen prescription drugs from a locker in police evidence on December 30th and 31st. Video evidence, which was recently obtained by AZfamily.com, seems to show Askew removing pills for his own use.
The investigation by the department consisted of police setting up a motion-activated camera in the drug vault, along with a video surveillance camera. They set these up after reports of suspicious activity taking place in the evidence room in late November.
Police claim that they served Askew with a notice of the ongoing investigation back on January 2nd. They placed Askew on a paid administrative leave while the investigation was completed, but he didn’t stay on leave for long. Instead, Askew resigned from the police department.
Prescott Valley police expanded their investigation after seeing the video evidence. Thankfully, in the investigation of more than 3,000 items covering 9 years of drug and narcotic cases between 2005 and 2014, they found that none of the criminal cases had been compromised in any way.
Askew has cooperated throughout the investigation, according to investigators. AZFamily reports that Askew had been privately battling addiction to Percocet pain killers after he went through two back injuries. While battling this addiction, Askew was put in charge of a program called “Dump the Drugs.” This program was designed to be a prescription drug drop-off program for citizens who did not want the dangerous and addictive medications in their house.
Askew has not been arrested in the case at this time, despite investigators finding more than 1,000 pills in his office. The Prescott Valley Police Department released a statement concerning the investigation, saying that they are “committed to serving this community with integrity and transparency.” The statement also details how Askew spent more than 20 years with the department, helping to establish a SWAT and K-9 unit and serving on many commissions and boards during his service.
“The tragedy of this incident is that a good, honest, decent person became another victim to the power and control of addiction. It illustrates the fact that addiction makes people do things they never would have done otherwise; it does not care who you are or what your profession is.” The statement continues “This should serve as a reminder to everyone that we must be vigilant to safeguard against the misuse of prescription medications. Everyone from the medical community to the patient must play a role to ensure prescription medications are properly dispensed, properly administered, and if appropriate, properly discarded.”