Lost and not found: Cocaine for Naples police training goes missing

— Tiny bars of soap, stiff towels, Gideon Bibles — there are just some things that guests expect when checking into any hotel.

But some lucky guest may have found an unexpected gift inside a Naples hotel room last spring — a package of cocaine — thanks to the Naples police department, no less.

Two veteran Naples police officers lost a packet of cocaine during a training exercise last spring, according to a recently released internal affairs investigation. The cocaine was believed to have been left in a local Best Western hotel room.

However, even though the allegations were sustained, neither officer was reprimanded in the case.

“It was looked at as strictly an honest mistake by two hardworking police officers,” Naples police spokesman Michael Herman said.

On May 13, officers Chuck Ankenbauer, a 13-year-veteran, and Linda Lines, a 16-year-veteran, checked out a narcotics kit from the department’s property and evidence room so they could conduct K9 training at Naples High School, according to the investigation. When they began hiding the two 2-gram packets of cocaine that were supposed to be in the case, they realized that one of the packets was missing.

Training records indicate that the cocaine was probably lost in April in either a Best Western hotel room, in the department parking lot, or in the rental car lot at the Naples Municipal Airport.

Both officers suspect the cocaine was left inside the hotel room on April 29, because their routine was disrupted that day when Lines, who usually handles the narcotics, was called out to a scene, reports said. Ankenbauer ended up hiding the cocaine instead.

When Lines returned to resume the training, both officers’ dogs were “lively” — leaping on the bed, biting pillows, knocking down pictures on the wall — and had to be secured to avoid damaging the room, reports said. They decided to conclude the training session early.

Lines told an investigator that she did not remember who collected the drugs that day, as she was more concerned with straightening up the room. She said that, at the time, there were no inventory-control mechanisms in place to ensure that no drugs were missing when signing in or signing out a narcotics kit.

That has since changed, Herman said.

Now officers have to document their training items on a per-instance basis, Herman said. Unit supervisors will review those logs monthly, and a full inventory of the kit is done quarterly.

“These are highly responsible veteran officers who as human beings made a simple mistake,” Herman said. “They immediately notified their supervisors to the situation.”

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Connect with Ryan Mills at www.naplesnews.com/staff/ryan_mills

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