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FBI, state police search Petersburg Police Headquarters amid misconduct allegations

Posted at 12:39 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 19:27:57-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Virginia State Police and the FBI conducted a search of Petersburg Police Headquarters. The weekend search was confirmed by Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Steve Vick.

The search was connected to a request by Petersburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Cassandra Conover to investigate the city’s police department, which was then being led by former Chief John Dixon.

The investigation involved allegations of officer misconduct, including an incident where it was believed $9,700 went missing from the police department's evidence room. That dollar amount then increased to about $13,000.

In a statement, police said the funds had not yet been accounted for and it appeared to be procedural and clerical issue rather than criminal.

Chief Dixon was terminated from his job in June.

Petersburg interim city manager Dironna Belton said it was her decision to relieve Dixon of his duties, but she would not explain why Dixon was let go, only saying that his services were no longer needed.

She later named William Rohde as the city’s acting police chief.

"The state police served a search warrant on our property and evidence room, going through what we have there compared to what our records say,” Rohde said.

Rohde was quick to point out that search warrant is part of the on-going investigation.

"It wasn't based on any new developments or anything,” he said.

Rohde knew about the investigation when he accepted the position.

He said the unaccounted for funds does not necessarily mean the money was stolen.

"Because something isn't there doesn't mean it isn't somewhere,” he said. “It’s supposed to be and we just didn't properly document it."

Rohde the department has made to changes to keep something like this from happening in the future.

“We've made personnel changes, we've made some organizational changes,” Rohde said. “And we think everything at this point, that's been going on for some time now, is straight and accounted for."

Rohde wanted the public to know the investigation only involves the evidence room and not the entire police department.

"It is not a department-wide problem, it's not even a significant number,” Rohde said. “If there is an issue, it's going to be one or two people who may not even be here at this point."

Rohde said the investigation is expected to continue for several more months since the process involves going through a mountain of paper work and matching it up with evidence and information on hand.

This is a developing story. Anyone with additional information can submit a news tip here.