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The officer in charge of Merritt RCMP is accused of taking - and using - cocaine from a police exhibit.

Staff Sgt. Stuart Seib, who was commander of the Clearwater detachment until last fall, is charged with theft, and additional charges are pending.

Chief Supt. Mike Sekela, the officer in charge of the RCMP's B.C. Southeast District, said an investigation into drugs missing from exhibits began last Friday.

A team of experienced officers worked through the weekend. The efforts included an audit of all exhibits under the officer's control, Sekela said a press conference in Chilliwack.

Seib has been suspended and his privileges and access to RCMP facilities revoked, he said.

"The process is underway to proceed with a recommendation that the member be suspended without pay," said Sekela.

"While the alleged actions of this member are extremely troubling, they are clearly not representative of the high moral and ethical standards of the vast majority of members of the RCMP."

Sekela has met personally with staff and officers at the Merritt detachment and is confident they remain dedicated to keeping the community safe, he said.

An 18-year police veteran, Seib took over the Merritt detachment in November after serving seven years as the officer in charge of Clearwater RCMP for eight years.

Clearwater Mayor John Harwood learned about the charge levelled against Seib while watching the evening news. He said the news left him "absolutely stunned."

"It's a real surprise," he said.

Harwood met Seib when he took over Clearwater RCMP and knew him to be a fair and reasonable cop, he said. Seib raised two sons and built a house in Clearwater.

He said it will take a while to fully digest the allegations against Seib.

Sgt. Norm Flemming was the temporary Merritt RCMP detachment commander following the departure of Staff Sgt. Scott Tod last summer. He told the Merritt News Wednesday night that he has resumed those duties.

Asked if the Merritt detachment was involved in the investigation of Seib, he replied, "I'm not really permitted to discuss the case specifically."

In a column printed in the Clearwater Times prior to his departure, Seib cites drug enforcement as a priority during his time in the North Thompson community.

His officers busted more than 100 grow-ops, seized thousands and thousands of pot plants, and put six coke dealers out of business during his time at the detachment, Seib wrote.

? Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News