Chief speaks out on crime lab breach

By Steve Neavling
Editor and reporter

Detroit Police never had a protocol for vacating a building when officers left to rot thousands of rounds of live ammunition, case files, murder photos and chemicals in at a vacant crime lab more than a year ago, Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr. told

Godbee said he’s responded with new procedures for vacating a building so records and potentially hazardous chemicals aren’t left behind in a city where abandoned structures are often ransacked by thieves.

A state police investigation also confirmed Godbee’s assertion that the abandoned materials contained no “evidentiary value,” the chief said, which means no criminal cases were compromised.
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The news comes a little more than a year after I discovered the debris as a reporter at the Free Press, which never followed up on the investigations.

“The Detroit Police investigation concluded the building was left locked and secured by the Detroit Police Department and that a criminal breaking-and-entering left the building at 2600 Brush open to trespass,” Godbee said.

I made the discovery after spotting a broken window at the former elementary school. Whoever broke the window also apparently left open the front door while leaving.

And that’s one mystery that hasn’t been solved: Who originally broke into the building and why?

Detroit Police were trying to determine if it was an inside job – maybe as an attempt to embarrass the department.

State Police continue to investigate the breaking-and-entering and said last week that that no suspects have been found.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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