UPDATE: New Details Released on Arrest of Former Lincoln Police Chief


A former Lincoln police chief was arrested Thursday, accused of taking narcotic-related evidence from the police department.

Brian Key, 41, was booked into the Washington County Detention Center Thursday on suspicion of tampering with physical evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Detention Center booking information.

An affidavit states that on Sept. 25 the Arkansas State Police launched an investigation into Key possibly mishandling evidence when he was the police chief.

“Reports had been received that the suspect had been taking prescription medication from people under the pretense of placing it in the city’s drug take back box,” the affidavit states.

Sgt. Kevin Brown of Arkansas State Police interviewed Russell Morphis, who was made the acting police chief after Key was placed on leave. Morphis told Brown that he was concerned about missing evidence.

Brown also spoke with Lincoln officer Zeb Rone, who said he seized 12 Xanax pills during a traffic stop and placed them in a drawer in the Lincoln Police Department’s squad room. Rone told Brown that Key asked him what he did with the pills, according to the affidavit.

“When Rone went to retrieve the pills to process them into their evidence room, he noticed that only 3 pills were in there,” the affidavit states.

Morphis asked to see the surveillance video from the day the drugs were seized.

“The video showed the suspect opening the drawer and removing an item, which he concealed in his hand,” the affidavit states.

Surveillance video later revealed Key prying open the locker assigned to officer Jeremy Brown. Key is seen taking an envelope out of the locker.

“A subsequent search of the office that the suspect used turned up a manila envelope with the initials ‘JB’ on it,” the affidavit states.

The envelope was supposed to contain a glass pipe with residue, which is evidence that Brown had seized after searching a residence.

“The pipe was not in the envelope and could not be located in the office,” the affidavit states. “Also in the office was a small baggie with what appeared to [be] crushed pills in it.”

Morphis contacted Brown on Nov. 8 and told him that he searched Key’s police vehicle and found several pieces of drug paraphernalia, including used syringes, a glass pipe with residue and a baggie with residue, according to the affidavit.

“He also found a piece of rubber tubing and napkins with blood on them. Both of those are associated with the injection of controlled substance,” the affidavit states.

Morphis told Brown that only Key used and had access to that police vehicle.

Arkansas State Police was the agency that arrested Key, according to booking information.

Key was released Thursday afternoon on a $1,500 bond. He has a hearing on Dec. 26 in Washington County Circuit Court.

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