BAKER —State Police arrested a former Baker police officer accused of soliciting more than $4,000 from youths taking part in anti-drug and police cadet programs he coordinated for the Police Department.
Jason Doyle, 47, a former Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer and Police Cadet Program coordinator, allegedly had asked participating students to help pay for DARE graduation programs from 2009 to 2012, an arrest warrant says. Doyle also solicited money from police cadets, the warrant says.
Troopers arrested and booked Doyle, 2929 Ray Weiland Drive, Baker, into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Wednesday on counts of theft and malfeasance in office, the warrant says.
Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps said late Wednesday after Doyle’s arrest that the DARE program Doyle once handled is funded by the Police Department through a federal grant and there was no need for children taking part in the program, or their families, to pay for any costs.
“I was very disappointed. It was a program I had personally run for 21 years for the department and I had turned it over to someone I could trust,” Knaps said. “I have no idea what he spent the money on. I do know there was no authority to collect the money. We don’t collect money for DARE.
“I can’t imagine what he was thinking or what he was doing,” Knaps said. “I’ll be very interested to hear his explanation as to what took place. It’ll be very hard to justify, but interesting to hear.”
Doyle, a member of the Baker police force for more than 10 years, resigned in June 2012, Knaps said.
After Doyle left, another officer found four receipt books covering both programs and signed by “Sgt. Doyle” dating back to Dec. 9, 2009, the warrant says.
The receipts were made out to schoolchildren in Baker, Doyle’s arrest warrant says.
Knaps gave troopers a copy of a letter dated Jan. 11, 2012, to parents of students at Park Ridge Academic Magnet School in which Doyle asked for donations of $16 per student, cash only, to help pay for DARE T-shirts, program completion certificates and food and refreshments, the warrant says.
Knaps said the Police Department pays for DARE T-shirts and graduation certificates and the school covers the cost of graduation ceremonies, including any food and refreshments, the warrant says.
When State Police detectives asked Doyle on Dec. 3 about the receipt books, he replied that the students’ money was for a DARE graduation program and that the Cadet Program money was raised through fund drives, the warrant says.
Doyle said the Police Cadet Program money had been collected from children who paid to attend a Cadet Academy in Mississippi and also went toward buying shirts, hats and uniforms when the Police Department lacked the funds to do so, the warrant says.
The amounts in the receipt books varied from $5 to $300 and were marked for “DARE Dues,” “DARE Fees,” “DARE Donations,” “Cadet Uniforms” and “Cadet Dues,” the warrant says.
After the officer found the receipt books following Doyle’s departure from the Police Department, Knaps said, he contacted State Police.
State Police investigators reported that some money Doyle allegedly obtained from cadets and DARE participants remains unaccounted for, according to the arrest warrant. The warrant also gives the following accounts of the investigation:
- According to the receipt books, Doyle collected $2,059 from DARE students in December 2009, but deposited $1,580 into the account.
- Between January 2010 and April 2010, Doyle collected $558 from students and between January 2012 and April 2012, Doyle collected $526 from students. None of that money was deposited and there have been no deposits into the account since September 2011.
- Doyle collected $4,023 in all from students for fees, dues and donations that he was not authorized to collect.