Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
Arlington's Chief of Police Will Johnson made it clear that he would not tolerated illegal drug use from officers.
Arlington Chief of Police Will Johnson said in a news conference Thursday afternoon that he has fired an officer implicated in a steroid operation and will expand the department's random drug screenings as a control measure.
Officer Thomas S. Kantzos was implicated in a steroid operation earlier this week and stands accused of tipping off a known drug dealer to police activity. Officers David Vo, who committed suicide near his home on Tuesday afternoon, and Craig Hermans, are also under investigation in connection with the operation.
Johnson said none of the employees currently under investigation were part of groups subjected to random drug testing.
In light of the federal investigation, Johnson said there was no way to deny the department has a problem with illegal drugs and that expanding random drug screenings to include all employees and not just those working undercover or receiving a promotion, is the first step to removing the blight.
"I think there is no way for us to say that there is not a problem. We have three individuals, one of which has passed, one has been arrested and one is under investigation. It's something I take very seriously and we will move to eradicate this from the department," said Johnson. "By expanding the program to all employees, our effort is to make sure that there are no gaps in the random drug testing program."
Johnson warned all department employees of the zero tolerance policy regarding illegal drug use.
"If I find out that they are doing illegal drugs, they will be terminated," said Johnson.
During the news conference, Johnson made the following statement before taking questions from the media:
Nothing is more disturbing to a police officer, especially the police chief, then the discovery of a police employee who has violated their oath of office and engaged in criminal behavior.
Thomas Kantzos violated the public’s trust. He violated the trust of his fellow officers and he violated the trust of this community bringing the department into disrepute. For these reasons I have terminated Mr. Kantzos employment with the city. I will not tolerate employees engaging in criminal behavior. His conduct does not reflect the hard work and sacrifice of over 800 employees who serve on the Arlington Police Department. It does not reflect our community values and this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.
We continue to assist federal and state officials in any possible manner to further their criminal investigation. We have requested that all leads and potential criminal charges be vigorously pursued.
It is important for the community to know that this criminal investigation takes priority over any administrative sanctions the department is considering. As the department receives actionable information from the criminal investigation, it will be carefully considered against city policies and if further disciplinary actions are warranted for other employees, then they will occur.
As the department begins to move forward, I am expanding the random drug testing program currently within operation within the department. Random drug testing is currently in place for all undercover officers and for those employees that are promoted. It will be expanded to cover all employees within the department. We will review the spectrum of drugs that are screened during the drug testing process to be sure it is complete and thorough. Finally, specific training will be developed to assist our employees to look for signs for potential steroid use in the workplace.
As it relates to illegal use of crime information systems, the department will seek opportunities to strengthen our internal controls in this process. It's important to know we are frequently audited by federal and state officials in the use of our crime information system and we consistently pass each of these audits. However, this case demonstrates the ability of an employee who is committed to breaking the law and violating department policy to circumvent the control processes in place. We will seize this opportunity to strengthen this process in an effort to reduce the likelihood this could occur in the future.
Finally, we're dealing with a loss of life in this department. Regardless of the circumstances, we are deeply saddened for David Vo's passing. We mourn the loss of his life and our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are sent to his family in this very difficult time.
Kantzos, who was released from federal custody Wednesday under certain conditions, is charged with exceeding authorized access to a protected computer. If convicted, he could spend 10 years in a federal prison and face a $250,000 fine, per count.
Johnson said the department is assisting the FBI in their investigation in any way possible.