ELKO — The police chief of Carlin has resigned and the sheriff’s office has temporarily taken over day-to-day administration, after an audit found improper evidence handling, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.
Carlin Police Chief Dennis Fobes’ departure became effective Friday in the mining community of about 2,300 residents located on Interstate 80, the Daily Free Press reported.
Elko County District Attorney Tyler Ingram said an investigation was launched in mid-January amid questions about evidence storage room maintenance and procedures, and he has begun reviewing pending criminal cases to determine if they should be dismissed.
The audit did not reveal evidence of corruption or misconduct by Carlin police staff, the elected county prosecutor said, and did not confirm unlawful manipulation or tampering with evidence
In a Feb. 10 letter to attorneys for county defendants, Ingram said third-party auditors found the department’s K-9 police dog may have been used “contrary to policy procedure and certification requirements.” The newspaper report did not provide details.
Sheriff Aitor Narvaiza said the dog, named Chief, has been retired and the sheriff’s office hopes to train a new dog for Carlin that meets sheriff’s office requirements. Narvaiza said he learned about the audit a week ago.
A sheriff’s lieutenant and evidence technicians have been assigned to Carlin to oversee day-to-day patrol operations, organize and catalog evidence, and provide training for officers and administrative staff for at least six months, the Daily Free Press reported.
“We’re not taking over Carlin, but just helping with evidence, training, and helping those young police officers move forward,“ Narvaiza said. “Right now, we’re just there to ... help that city.”
Ingram said a preliminary review of 160 Carlin criminal cases since 2018 found most do not involve physical evidence. He said a few active cases involved use of the police dog.
“It is important to keep in mind that not all the cases will be affected by the issues with property and evidence maintenance,” he said.
Fobes became Carlin police chief in 2015 after working for the department as a patrol officer since 2004.
When he was appointed, the Carlin City Council decided not to move forward with a proposal to merge the police department with the sheriff’s office, said Elko County Commissioner Cliff Eklund, who was Carlin’s mayor at the time.
Ingram praised city officials for their quick response to issues found in the audit. After the evidence room is organized, he said he will know which cases the his office is “legally and ethically obligated to dismiss or move forward with.”
A court may make the final decision in some cases, he said.