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Two Midland Police Officers Suspended, Accused of Taking Signs From Homeless

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Staff Report
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Two Midland Police officers have been suspended for taking away signs from the homeless and destroying or keeping evidence.

Both officers were suspended without pay for three days.

The Midland Reporter Telegram originally filed Public Information Act requests on the case as part of their series of reports concerning open record investigations into the Midland Police Department.

NewsWest 9 has obtained a copy of the Internal Affairs report from the Midland Police Department.

The report says Officers Derek Hester and Daniel Zoelzer both collected signs from the homeless as a contest and panhandlers signs were found in both of their patrol cars.

The report also found Hester threw away a marijuana pipe and kept some brass knuckles from one investigation. He also kept drug scales and a rusty pocket knife he confiscated from other cases.

Those items were not logged into evidence.

As for Officer Zoelzer, the report says he admitted to taking a knife off a person with the intention of giving it back but he never did.

Two knives were found in his patrol car.

In a statement, Midland Police Chief Price Robinson said the department doesn't condone the officer’s behavior and public trust is of the utmost importance.

He goes on to say personnel acted swiftly to report the officers’ conduct and the department is committed to respecting the individual rights and human dignity of all members of the community.

The chief says all of the patrol officers were talked to about proper protocol for property as well as handling evidence and the importance of the department's values.