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COLUMBUS — The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has fired an employee suspected of misconduct with evidence and commissioned an outside audit of its evidence room’s holdings.

Sgt. Christopher Byers, whom the office placed on administrative leave last month, “was terminated (Dec. 9) due to policy violations relating to the handling of evidence,” according to an email statement from Lt. Lowell Griffin, the office’s operations officer.

“We believe the amount of the evidence that is in question is very small,” Griffin said. “An independent company is currently conducting an audit of the evidence at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.”

“We learned of the policy violations through Byers’ own admission,” Griffin said. He added that Byers “has been completely cooperative throughout this investigation.”

“Within hours” of Byers’ admission, both the District Attorney’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation were apprised of the situation, Griffin said.

Last week, District Attorney Greg Newman said Byers had confessed to misconduct stemming from a problem with drug addiction, according to WLOS.

Newman said Byers’ duties included processing evidence taken into the sheriff’s office.

Byers had been with the sheriff’s office since April 2013. At the time he was placed on administrative leave last month, he was working as a support services sergeant with a salary of $37,128, according to public records.

Jon Elliston

Jon Elliston is the lead contributing open government reporter at Carolina Public Press. Contact him at jelliston@carolinapublicpress.org.

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