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TOWN POLICE PROBE CHARGE AGAINST OWN OFFICER

Evans town police officials are investigating a shoplifting charge against one of their own, an officer with an exemplary record in her nine years on the force.

Officer Tracey O'Donnell, 35, was arrested on a misdemeanor petit larceny charge Dec. 18, accused of leaving the Builders Square store on Milestrip Road in Blasdell with a $64 tool kit, Town of Hamburg police said. A store security officer apprehended her.

Officer O'Donnell remains on active duty while top police officials in Evans investigate the incident.

"Right now, we're just trying to find out what the facts are," Police Chief Robert N. Ferguson said Tuesday. "She has a presumption of innocence until she's proven guilty."

Ferguson wouldn't elaborate on the reasons for not suspending the officer. But he sounded shocked by the allegations.

"Since she started in 1988, she's been an exemplary police officer," he said. "This is the first problem I've ever had with her."

"The allegation leaves a very large moral question of trust," he said. "We know that, as law-enforcement officers, society puts a special faith in us. Obviously, we're looking to see if that faith has been broken."

Officer O'Donnell's court case reportedly has been adjourned until Jan. 21. She was released on an appearance ticket following her arrest.

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