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N.C. Officer Suspended Over Disposal of Meth Lab Materials

WADESBORO, N.C. --

A Wadesboro Police officer has been placed on leave after authorities say he improperly disposed of part of a potential meth lab.

Authorities said the incident happened in September, when a relative of the officer brought a plastic bottle with tubing attached the officer's home while he was off duty.

The bottle was found in a home in rural Anson County, and allegedly belonged to a young mother already in jail on drug charges.

The Wadesboro Police Chief said the officer didn't know what to do with the bottle, so he called a drug detective with the Anson County Sheriff's Office.

"Unfortunately, I think the decision was made to dispose of this material and/or lab," said Chief Janie Schutz.

Schutz said the officer should have called her department, or the State Bureau of Investigations, which is the proper agency to safely dispose of hazardous meth materials.

"Meth labs are dangerous, they can be explosive," Schutz said.

Because the officer did not follow department protocol, he was suspended and Schutz launched an internal investigation.

She is now calling for a second, independent investigation by the State Bureau of Investigations.

"I think it's extremely helpful to ask for help from an outside agency, that way I can truly look at anyone and say my hands are clean," Schutz said.

Two days later, the same family discovered more meth lab components inside a closet in the mother's bedroom, where her children also lived.

The family told Eyewitness News they found batteries, jars of acid, foil, tubing and bottles, so they called the Anson County Sheriff's Office.

Once on scene, the sheriff's deputy who responded called another drug detective within the department.

According to the family, the detective told them to simply dispose of the materials themselves and wash the children's clothes in Clorox.

When reached by phone on Friday, Sheriff Tommy Allen defended both recommendations by his drug detectives, telling Eyewitness News neither situation involved an active meth lab.

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