FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A Fairfield Police narcotics detective who is also the son of the mayor of Norwalk was arrested on Friday and charged with stealing drugs from cases he was involved in, according to police.
Stephen Rilling, 40, was charged with third-degree computer crime, second-degree larceny, second-degree forgery, possession of narcotics, false entry by an officer or agent of a public community, and tampering with evidence. He was released on a $5,000 bond.
Rilling is the Head Narcotics Investigator for the Fairfield Police Department, a position he has held since April 2011. He has been with the department for 18 years, and is the son of Harry Rilling, the mayor of Norwalk and the former chief of the Norwalk Police Department.
Police learned of the thefts on April 12 and placed Rilling on administrative leave while they launched an internal investigation that is still ongoing. They subsequently launched a criminal investigation and issued a warrant for Rilling's arrest. The thefts of drugs occurred between June 2016 and February 2017, police said.
Fairfield Police said that Rilling got the drugs through the evidence room by leading the property officer to believe that they were being taken out for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Rilling did not take out any currency or other items of value, and police said the integrity of the evidence room was not breached and the chain of custody for cases was not breached.
In a blog entry posted on RyanHampton.org earlier this month, Rilling admitted that he had had a problem with opioids and eventually heroin. He said that he first started taking them after suffering an injury on the job, and that after three years he finally admitted that he had a problem and went to rehab.
Rilling was surprised to find that after he returned to work, he was assigned to work in the narcotics unit.
"I was floored that I was placed back into that line of work after coming forward with my problem. I thought it was a little reckless – but I didn’t want to let anyone down," Rilling wrote. He said he was clean for about two years, but then the stress got to him and he relapsed.
"I began taking opioids again but was not getting it prescribed like before. So, like any good addict I graduated to heroin. Never in my wildest dreams would I believe that I would stoop so low, but I did. The guilt was immeasurable! I couldn’t go to my work and admit that. I couldn’t face my wife and kids. And I couldn’t tell my father. I was stuck and didn’t even see it coming."
He said a friend convinced him to get help, and he again went to detox. In the entry, which was posted on May 7, he said he was seven days sober.
Fairfield Police said they have conducted an audit of the evidence room and found no other evidence was missing. They have also implemented new policies with regards to accessing evidence in order to prevent further thefts by officers. These new policies include approval by supervisors and dual signatures, police said.
Police are following up with the office of the State's Attorney to determine the legal and proper way to address the cases that were investigated and possibly affected by the thefts.
"This incident has troubled all of us within the organization, as we know it will the community as well. We pride ourselves on our openness and engagement with the community we serve," Fairfield Police said. "It was our responsibility to ensure that this incident was immediately addressed and investigated. That has been done. It remains our responsibility that we reaffirm to the Fairfield community of our commitment to provide professional public safety."
"Like too many other families in Connecticut, my son and our family are facing the effects of the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our state," Harry Rilling said in a statement.
"In the past few weeks I learned that my son has a substance abuse problem brought on by prescription pain medication. He has accepted responsibility for his situation and is in therapy. We are proud of the way he is facing this problem and will continue to stand by him as he works toward recovery," Harry Rilling continued.
"We are a family who believes in the power of prayer. With prayer and hard work, Steve will get healthy and will move on with his life. This is a personal matter for our family and I will have no further comment."