S. Jersey K-9 officer charged with stealing cocaine from training unit

An Ocean County sheriff's lieutenant was charged Wednesday with stealing cocaine from the department's canine training unit, authorities said.

Lt. John C. Adams, 40, who worked as a certified canine handler and instructor with the Canine Unit, is accused of taking cocaine from the department for his personal use over the last two years. 

The cocaine was stored at the Sheriff's Office and was used to train canines to detect the drug.

In addition to theft and cocaine possession, Adams was charged with official misconduct. He surrendered Wednesday at the police department in Toms River, where the Sheriff's Office is based. He was issued a complaint summons and released, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said. 

Adams, who began working for the Sheriff's Office in July 2000, was suspended without pay Wednesday, Sheriff Michael Mastronardy said in a phone interview.

"Unfortunately, in today’s society, obviously no one’s immune to the tragic attraction by someone’s desire for illicit drugs, including public safety organizations such as ours," Mastronardy said. He said the office tries to protect its employees, but "we can’t protect them from the disease of addiction."

"We believe this is an aberration," he said, adding that the office has modified its procedures for handling cocaine used to train its canines.

Adams is the grandson of the former Ocean County Sheriff William Polhemus, who died in December 2012.