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Attorney Claims Burglar Stole Secret Crime-Stats File

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By Phil Williams
Chief Investigative Reporter

Metro police are trying to sort through a bizarre story involving questions about the department's crime statistics -- and a reported burglary.

A local attorney claims someone broke into his offices and stole a secret file involving former Police Chief Ronal Serpas.

The break-in supposedly occurred right after NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised questions about Serpas' crime stats.

Attorney Jack Byrd said he had built up an incriminating file over about four years, including secret recordings of officers talking with Serpas and other police brass.

Byrd had once served as lawyer for the Teamsters, who had represented Metro police officers for several years. That's when he started his file.

But Byrd claims someone broke into his offices here in this building on Murfreesboro Road sometime late on May 12th or early May 13th.

Byrd says the burglar broke into a nearby maintenance closet and cut through the wall into his office, taking his secret file on Serpas.

Still, police have lots of questions.

"The hole is one square foot in diameter -- very small," said police spokesperson Don Aaron.

"I don't know of many people who could fit through a hole that small. He says that people -- a burglar or burglars -- went in and took very specific items, ignoring other valuables in the office but went for very specific items. I guess the police department would want to know from him: who knew that he had possession of these items?"

The attorney says the burglar took the file he'd compiled on Serpas' use of crime statistics -- including secret tape recordings made by officers -- when the Teamsters was the police union and Byrd was their lawyer.

But police say Byrd hasn't given them details.

"We need more information from Mr. Byrd to act upon this report," Aaron said. "Mr. Byrd has yet to inform the public of the exact nature of the files or the recordings that he says were taken in this burglary. We'd like to know who knew of these recordings, what these recordings and files depicted so that we can try to advance this investigation."

Byrd tells NewsChannel 5 Investigates that he's not free to discuss exactly what was in the files and on the tapes because of what he calls attorney-client privilege.

E-mail: pwilliams@newschannel5.com

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