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Kacie Dingus Breeding • Sep 6, 2007 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — While Kingsport Police Chief Gale Osborne continued Thursday to investigate allegations of misuse of the department’s vice squad surveillance, KPD Deputy Chief David Quillin took time to explain the nature of the squad’s operations.

The issue arose following reports that the KPD vice squad was conducting video surveillance — allegedly in response to a tip relayed by KPD Cpl. Tim Candler — outside a Kingsport business where Candler’s wife is employed.

Osborne is conducting an investigation to determine if the Aug. 27 surveillance at Alexander Prosthetics was in violation of department policies.

Chris Alexander, the owner of the business, questioned why the tag number reported for the vehicle involved in the incident did not match the vehicle Alexander’s employees saw when they chased vice officers from the business at 3351 E. Stone Drive.

KPD’s Quillin said that the vehicles didn’t match because the department protects vice officers’ identities and that the “Martinez” name that appears in the police report on the incident is, in fact, an alias.

“If someone were to see someone in one of those vehicles and ran the tag number and it came back to the KPD, that would jeopardize the investigation,” he said.

Any investigation, Quillin explained, begins with a tip. “Tips, tidbits and pieces of information ... come through, if not daily, certainly weekly, just dozens of them, and ... they look into those to see if there’s anything that substantiates the tip.”

Video surveillance is just one common way for them to corroborate information received, Quillin said.

“Many times they do surveillance, whether it’s covert or whether it’s overt, from a distance in a place where they certainly have a right to be (anyplace without a no trespassing sign).”

Using a drug tip about vehicle descriptions as an example, Quillin said, “In this particular case they’ll go and they’ll watch this particular location — are (these cars) showing up, is there a lot of traffic, a lot of people stopping in at odd hours of the day and night, are they running in for five minutes and coming back out?“

One concern of the internal investigation is the origin of Candler’s tip that he provided to vice.

But Quillin said all he knows is that vice officers “took this information as they would take any other information — they went to investigate to see if it was real or if it was not real.”

Typically, “ ... the second step may be to talk to one of our informants,” Quillin said. “They can provide us with additional information and — once we gather all that together, we decide on a course of action.

That’s also what Quillin says they’ve been doing during the recent spate of internal investigations. “When personnel issues come before us and complaints come to us, we take the responsibility very seriously to investigate those,” Quillin said.

“And, we try to do that in the most effective, efficient way that we can, to gather all the facts, not just one side or not just the other side, we have to gather all the facts independently, and we look at the totality of the circumstances and we address those accordingly.”

If it comes down to a policy change in the way the department handles such investigations, Quillin said, “we’ll certainly look at working to improve that.”

“Chief Osborne will deal with this (the investigation) expeditiously, effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, he will deal with it fairly. We’re going to do this in the most timely manner that we can, but it’s imperative that we gather all the facts and that takes a little while to do that, but that is certainly our intention,” he added.

Quillin sought to remind the public of the department’s successes against crime in Kingsport despite any internal troubles. “We’ve had a lot of good things going on — $60,000 worth of cocaine and OxyContin that was just recovered in the last couple days; we have had a number of arrests following some auto burglaries and some different things like that; recovery of construction equipment; and our detectives have certainly been busy recovering a lot of stolen property, making a lot of drug arrests; and we had an officer yesterday working the interstate and that resulted in the finding of those 10 illegals,” Quillin said.

“I think we have an excellent track record and we have a chief of police who deals with these things in a very appropriate manner, but he’s also one that is very thorough and he wants to gather all the facts, all the information that we possibly can, before any decision or any action, if needed, be taken,” he said.

“The men and women that work here, they wear the uniform proudly and they go out here and they do the best they can for the citizens every day, and I think that is important to remember — and we’re going to continue to do that,” Quillin concluded.


KPD investigating businessman's complaint about police surveillance

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