Harrisburg’s community policing coordinator charged with drug offense

David Botero (WHTM file)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Harrisburg’s community policing coordinator is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

David Botero had a metal pipe used for smoking marijuana in his car when Hampden Township police stopped him last month for swerving in and out of his travel lane, according to a criminal complaint.

Police said Botero’s car had a strong odor of burnt marijuana. Botero, 40, denied having marijuana in his car and told the officer he had smoked before leaving his house.

A search of the car turned up the pipe and a clear plastic vial used to contain marijuana, and Botero admitted the items belonged to him, police said.

As Harrisburg’s community policing coordinator, it’s Botero’s job to build relationships between the police and the community.

A suspension for Botero is to be announced Thursday, according to Mayor Eric Papenfuse. The terms of that suspension will be decided by Harrisburg Police Chief Thomas Carter.

“I was shocked,” Papenfuse said when he learned of the charges. “I kept thinking of all the good work that he has done and all of the kids who look up to him.”

In a statement, Botero said he’s ashamed and regretful of his actions. He said he did not properly represent his “sisters and brothers in blue.”

“My goal is to always demonstrate our mission of working in the community with honor, integrity and professionalism,” he wrote. “I am deeply sorry, and I seek forgiveness and empathy from my colleagues and the community.”

“There are consequences for his action,” Papenfuse said. “I hope this is something that he can bounce back from.”

A preliminary hearing on the misdemeanor charge is scheduled for April 5.

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