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April 25, 2008 -- Town Talk (LA)

DARE Officer Charged In Drug Case At School; Heard Audio Of Undercover Operation

By Abbey Brown

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

A Pineville Police DARE officer and Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office corrections officer were arrested after the DARE officer reportedly made a drug deal with a police informant while on duty Wednesday afternoon at Lessie Moore Elementary School in Pineville, officials said today.

The correction officer's connection to the deal and operation wasn't released as the investigation is ongoing.

Much of the undercover drug deal involving the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office Metro Narcotics Division was somehow broadcast over the police scanner, although sheriff's officials still aren't sure how.

"That could be an extremely serious problem," Sheriff's Assistant Chief Herman Walters said, referring to officer safety with the information going out over the scanner. "We need to sit down and talk with the ( officers ) involved and see if they did anything differently to try to determine what happened."

Pineville Police Patrolman First Class Raymond Eli Smith, 37, of 110 Wildwood Drive, Pineville, and Sheriff's Deputy Marcus Taylor, 35, of 1425 Jeannie St., Pineville, were charged with conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine, authorities reported. Smith was also charged with malfeasance in office, officials said.

Sheriff Charles F. "Chuck" Wagner and Walters said they doesn't know of any other instances in the past where undercover operations have been broadcast over the police scanner and that it is something that is seriously being examined.

According to a law enforcement official, anyone with that frequency programmed into his or her scanner could have picked up the broadcast traffic.

In addition to being heard by Town Talk employees, the communication was heard by at least the Alexandria Police Department and another media agency.

Talk of a trip to Detroit and the sale of "bricks" or "kilos" was heard during the deal. During the broadcast, the men talked about ensuring that they didn't speed and had no problems with their vehicle for the trip to Detroit since there would be drugs in it.

According to a news release from the Sheriff's Office, Smith met with the informant around 2 p.m. Wednesday in the elementary school's parking lot and conspired to obtain and distribute one kilogram of powder cocaine with a street value of about $25,000. The cocaine, Walters said, was in the informant's possession and was Sheriff's Office evidence cocaine.

At one point during the conversation, the informant was heard to say, "Hey, I've got a partner that was in a buy, and he bought him a kilo, he bought him a key right ... and I don't know how to get rid of it for him. I mean it's a good brick. ... Yeah ... I need to get rid of it. How can I get rid of it?"

Acting Pineville Police Chief Terral Paul said Smith has worked for Pineville Police for about nine years and has been a DARE officer for more than a year. Smith was placed on administrative leave with pay pending a civil service investigation immediately after his arrest, Paul said.

Wagner said Taylor had worked at the Sheriff's Office for about seven years and was currently a corrections officer at Detention Center III. Taylor, who was arrested today, has been placed on administrative suspension without pay pending further investigation, Wagner said.

Taylor is also employed by local NBC television station KALB as a part-time photographer, according to station president and general manager Les Golmon.

"The Pineville Police Department is going to continue to do what we do and deliver service to our citizens in a professional and respectful manner," Paul said in light of Smith's arrest. "It goes without saying that we will not tolerate actions such as this. This situation will be dealt with swiftly and severely according to the rules of the Pineville Police Department's Civil Service Board."

Smith was released from the Rapides Parish Jail on $12,500 bond soon after his Wednesday arrest. He was arrested after being called to the Police Department by Paul, who had been told of the investigation, Paul said.

Wagner said U.S. Marshals have assisted in the investigation and that other out-of-state agencies may get involved. At this time there is no indication that any other law enforcement officers were involved in this investigation.

A portion of the undercover operation that was broadcast across the scanner was recorded by The Town Talk and is posted uncensored and unedited on our Web site.

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