The Alameda police officer who led the department's internal affairs section was arrested Thursday and now faces felony charges for fraudulently obtaining prescription medication, authorities said.
Ronald R. Jones, a sergeant and a 26-year police veteran, is accused of visiting at least one home of someone who recently died and telling the family that police offered a disposal service for the individual's medication.
He then took the medication and never placed it into evidence for destruction, investigators said.
"He was contacting families of people who had died — or who were terminally ill or dying from natural causes — and saying that the police department offered a service to collect their medication," said Special Agent Michelle Gregory of the state Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. "The police department does not provide any such service."
It was not immediately known what the 48-year-old Jones was doing with any medication he was collecting, Gregory said.
She also could not name the type of medications or how many people Jones allegedly contacted.
Alameda police launched an internal affairs investigation last month.
Jones was taken into custody in Pleasanton Thursday morning on two felony counts of using fraud, deceit or misrepresentation to obtain a controlled substance. He was cited and released.
Jones is currently on paid administrative leave, Alameda police Lt. Bill Scott said.
Scott said there was "no plausible explanation" for Jones as an administrative sergeant to collect the medications or to have used his authority as a police officer to contact the family of someone who had died.
Neither Jones nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
"It's very sad," Mayor Beverly Johnson said. "He's a good officer and he's had a good career. I also think that the police department is handling this in a professional and an appropriate manner."
Jones has served in a variety of posts during his more than a quarter-century career as a police officer, including as the sergeant in charge of the department's narcotics and vice section.
In November 1991, Jones was among six Alameda officers who were revealed to have transmitted racial remarks on the computer terminals of their patrol cars. Then-City Manager William Norton moved to fire Jones and another officer, but later decided to temporarily suspend him and four others. The sixth officer received a written reprimand.
Jones later offered a public apology, telling the City Council that he "did not mean them as anything but a stupid joke."
Reach Peter Hegarty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-748-1654.