Though seemingly trivial, the incident would have marred his credibility in future cases
If you had to pick two substances to define the lifestyle of Coloradans, there’s a good chance you’d go with marijuana (duh) and granola. So it’s only fitting that a drug task force cop in Colorado is out of a job because of an unfortunate connection between the two.
Lieutenant Ryan Engle of the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office was forced to resign this week after recently-surfaced video evidence showed him swiping several granola bars from a crime scene last year. According to the Durango Herald, the incident occurred at the site of a ‘drug bust’ in Durango, Colorado, which in this case basically means someone was suspected of growing marijuana without a permit. Security footage taken in the homeowner’s garage showed Engle grabbing “three to five” granola bars off of a table.
Because it qualified as an incident of misconduct at a crime scene, the sordid tale of the purloined granola was referred to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office conducted a concurrent internal investigation, subsequently choosing to suspend Engle from all law enforcement duties. Because the incident would have to be disclosed to defense attorneys in future cases, Engle ultimately made the decision to resign knowing that the credibility of his future investigative work had been irreparably damaged.
According to Engle’s lawyer Ryan Brungard, the lieutenant’s only mistake was assuming the presence of a cooperative homeowner meant that the granola was free for the taking. “Based on the atmosphere of the search and the homeowner’s hospitality, [Engle] felt the granola bars were open for anyone to take,” Brungard said. “So [he] took a handful for his fellow search team and law enforcement colleagues.”
While those who “back the blue” probably find Engle’s resignation over a simple snack-based misunderstanding ridiculous, those involved in handling the incident suggest that doling out punitive granola justice is essential to maintaining the integrity of Colorado’s law enforcement officers.
“The principle behind it is that it doesn’t make a difference if it’s $5 or $5,000,” Christian Champagne, the DA for Colorado’s 6th Judicial District said. “We expect as a society our officers are going to operate to the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and any slip can’t be looked past.”
So let that be a lesson to cops across the country: not only should you not plant evidence on people, but don’t just assume you can take their granola and expect to get away with it. Maybe just stick with doughnuts instead.