The Hagerstown Police Department has charged a 15-year veteran of the force with charges of distribution and possession of prescription controlled dangerous substances. Sgt. Christopher Michael Barnett was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police at his home Thursday evening, and a Washington County District Court Commissioner issued felony criminal charges this morning."I cannot and will not make any excuses for this betrayal of our agency, badge, and community," says Chief Victor Brito. "I'm personally deeply disappointed and quite frankly sickened by this criminal act. That said, I know in my heart that the men and women I serve with at the Hagerstown Police Department perform their duties with integrity and selfless dedication every day."
Police received credible information and evidence from a source on Thursday afternoon that Barnett had engaged in illegal activity while on duty. Investigators were presented with video footage of Sgt. Barnett providing a prescription narcotic to another individual at a location within the city of Hagerstown. Once police were able to corroborate the video with witness accounts, criminal charges were filed."When we received this information, we acted as quickly as we do in any criminal matter to address the issue," Brito adds. "This will be treated the same as every case we handle on a regular basis, and he will be rightly afforded due process of the law."Barnett has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He was hired with the department in July of 2002 and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2012. Additional details surrounding the circumstances are part of an ongoing investigation. Charging documents can be obtained from Washington County District Court, and a booking photo is attached to this release.Media inquiries should be directed to Officer Heather Aleshire, Public Information Officer for the Hagerstown Police Department, at 301-302-4894.