Decatur, Ala., organized crime unit chief missing - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Decatur, Ala., organized crime unit chief missing

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Posted: Monday, January 5, 2009 5:28 pm | Updated: 12:37 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

DECATUR, Ala. - Authorities searched Monday for the head of a northern Alabama city's organized crime unit, who was last seen working late Friday and then vanished, leaving signs of a struggle in his office.

Investigators don't know whether the disappearance of Sgt. Faron White was linked to his Decatur police duties, which include handling most of its narcotics cases and enforcing alcohol laws, a police spokesman said.

"There are multiple scenarios that could have taken place, and it may or may not have been related to his job," said Lt. Jonathan Green. "At this time we are still trying to figure that out."

A statement from Decatur police listed White as "missing/endangered," and local, state and federal investigators were included in the search.

White is married with three children, according to a citation that honored him as Decatur's police officer of the year for 2007. Police said relatives did not want to talk with the media about the disappearance and were cooperating with the investigation.

White's squad of four or five officers investigates conspiracies involving drugs, gambling, prostitution, money laundering and other crimes in Decatur, a city of about 55,000 on the Tennessee River.

White, 48, was last seen about 8 p.m. Friday by firefighters who work in the same training building as his office, Green said. His family reported him missing early Saturday when he didn't return home.

Officers found "distinct signs" of a struggle in White's office and believe he was involved, Green said. But White did not make a distress call by telephone or radio. Green declined comment on what evidence was found in the office, where White was working alone.

A rescue squad spent Sunday searching an area near the Tennessee River for signs of White, but Green said the hunt was out of caution, not because of any tip. They used a helicopter in the search.

"That was just done out of an effort to look anywhere and everywhere he can be," he said. Authorities also used a helicopter to look for White but found nothing.

When the American Legion named White as police officer of the year, they credited his unit with seizing more than $100,000 worth of cash, weapons and property from drug dealers.

"Sgt. White is a very well-respected officer in our department," said Green.

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