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Nashville narcotics officer caught stealing $5K in cash during sting operation

(MNPD)

Metro Nashville Police said one of its own narcotics detectives resigned after he was caught stealing more than $5K in cash during a sting operation at a motel on Wednesday.

According to the MNPD, Special Investigations Division Narcotics Sgt. James Dunaway was caught pocketing the cash after he went to a motel with other officers for a drug investigation. Police said MNPD Chief Steve Anderson set up the room with $28,000 cash, four pounds of marijuana and undercover cameras for the sting operation.

Cameras caught Dunaway taking money from different parts of the room and pocketing a total of $5,860.

The Office of Professional Accountability began investigating him in September after he executed a drug search warrant with other officers on Spence Enclave Lane on Sept. 13. Police seized large amounts of contraband, three pounds of cocaine, 11 pounds of marijuana and more than $70,000 cash found in the home.

As officers were processing the evidence, one of the officers saw Dunaway take some of the cash and reported it to a department supervisor.

“When an allegation of badge betrayal comes to my attention, it will be investigated fully,” Chief Anderson said. “I am both angered and disappointed by what took place in the motel room this afternoon. The credibility of the Nashville Police Department in all that we do is of paramount importance. I am proud of the officer who came forward in September. This community should expect nothing less than a commitment to absolute professionalism by officers regardless of assignment.”

Chief Anderson said there is no indication from the investigation that any other detective at SID was involved in the alleged criminal activity. Sgt. Dunaway was charged with felony theft and freed on a $2,000 bond on Thursday.

"The investigating detectives from the police department’s Criminal Investigations Division are not able to presently place a charge of official misconduct against Dunaway," police said in a news release. "Under Tennessee law, an official misconduct charge can only result from a grand jury indictment."

Dunaway is a 16-year veteran of the MNPD, who was transferred to the SID Narcotics Unit in July 2015. Before that he supervised the Madison Precinct’s Crime Suppression Unit beginning in January 2012.

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