FREEBURG — There is insufficient evidence to criminally prosecute two fired Freeburg police officers who were accused of improperly handling items from an evidence storage room, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly has determined.
But their conduct, as viewed on a surveillance video, may taint cases in which they have appeared as witnesses, Kelly wrote in a Nov. 26 letter to Freeburg Police Chief Mel Woodruff.
The former officers are Steve Burrows and John Blomenkamp. A spokesman at the law firm of William Berry in Collinsville, who represent the pair in their effort to be reinstated, declined to comment.
"I have personally reviewed the videos in question," Kelly wrote. "At this time there is insufficient evidence to prove the criminal offenses of official misconduct, criminal damage to state supported property or theft beyond a reasonable doubt."
However, Kelly added, "At a minimum, the conduct of the former officers is grossly unprofessional and casts a shadow over the credibility."
What he saw on the videos likely would have to be turned over to the defense in any case where the two former officers played a role, Kelly stated.
"Judges and juries would then review their reports and testimony through the prism of these videos with predictable, devastating results for any case," Kelly said.
The statute of limitations could still allow a felony of misdemeanor prosecution if further evidence is found, he said.
Freeburg Village Attorney Brian Manion said the tapes showed a variety of activity and backed up the village board's 4-2 decision on Sept. 4 to fire the officers.
Burrows and Blomenkamp were observed on the tape made at the police department cutting a gun lock that secured a drawer holding the possessions of another former officer, Mansion said. The two claimed they were retrieving "Taser cartridges," but installed another gun lock and kept the key, Manion said.
The pair were accused of engaging in pranks, going through the possessions of other officers and taking another officer's gloves.
They were placed on administrative leave May 4.
The fired officers have contended that the city was out to get them because of political bad blood connected to their role as police union leaders.
Mayor Ray Danford has said the dismissals were unrelated to union activities and were connected to accusations that the two cops had entered the police evidence room without permission.