Police officer arrested, charged with receiving stolen property

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A four-year veteran of the Selma Police Department faces a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property, third-degree.

Patrol officer Robert Johnson, 27, was arrested Wednesday afternoon and booked at the Selma Police Department after he came in to discuss allegations against him.

Selma Police Chief William Riley said the arrest stemmed from an incident in November when Johnson was placed on suspension after an internal investigation dealing with departmental issues. Riley declined to be specific about the situation involving the suspension.

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Once he was placed on suspension, Johnson had to turn in his vehicle, equipment and other items belonging to the police department.

“As a result of that, a search of his vehicle — his police unit — we located a firearm,” Riley said. “At this particular time we were not aware if this firearm was stolen or just property he may have just forgotten to have turned in.”

Investigators ran the serial numbers from the weapon, which did not reveal the weapon, was stolen.

“But we recognize that a lot of our weapons don’t come back stolen because most people either they misplace the serial number one digit off or another or they just don’t have it because who walks around with a serial number of a weapon?” Riley explained.

Investigators sent a letter to the weapon’s owners to determine if it was stolen.

“They responded back to us this week and they let us know the weapon had been stolen. They had reported it stolen from the city of Selma,” Riley said.

Police pulled up the report by the name of the owners, which revealed the weapon had been stolen from a vehicle on Oct. 5.

Investigators verified the serial number and the weapon against the report.

“During the investigation, it was determined that the officer did acknowledge possession of the weapon at one point and that led us to the arrest of receiving stolen property of third,” Riley said.

The reason the charge is a misdemeanor is that the weapon is valued at $300. For there to be a felony charge, the weapon would have had to be valued at $500 or more, according to Alabama state law.

Riley said he does not believe Johnson stole the weapon.

“We feel that, from what little information we are getting, is that someone gave him that weapon. Somehow it was passed to him and came into his possession,” said Riley. “And right now, that’s where the investigation seems to lead us — that someone gave him that weapon and, unfortunately for him that weapon was stolen. And more information, I’m sure, will probably come out later on as the case gets close to adjudication.”

Johnson will have a court date set in Municipal Court soon.

Officials at the Selma City Jail declined to say the amount of Johnson’s bond or if he had paid bail. Officials at the Dallas County Jail had no records Wednesday night regarding Johnson’s arrest or bond.

Even if Johnson is found innocent of the charge, he will not be allowed to return to his job, Riley said.

“This is dealing with moral turpitude,” Riley said, “and as a law enforcement officer you cannot have your moral turpitude sullied in any manner.”