A veteran San Diego police officer busted on drug charges alongside her police officer husband said she's "caught off guard" by the allegations and is confident everything will "be worked out" eventually.
“We’re both really caught off guard by this," accused San Diego Police Department officer Jennifer Charpentier, 41, told NBC 7 Friday, publicly speaking about the allegations for the first time.
"I’m thankful that in our justice system you’re innocent until proven guilty and I have faith in our justice system, and I think that this will all be worked out,” she added.
Jennifer said she wanted to speak with NBC 7 on this matter in hopes of “quieting things down” for her neighbors, family and friends.
"It's extremely overwhelming. I cannot believe that my life is public, on the news. I can't believe it," she said. "I wish that I could just not say anything, but I want people to know that there are two sides to every story. We are definitely innocent until proven guilty."
Jennifer, an 18-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), was charged with possession of a controlled substance, sales of drugs, transportation and conspiracy on Thursday.
Her husband, Bryce Charpentier, 32 – an SDPD officer, too – was also charged with the same counts, as well as being under the influence while in possession of a loaded firearm.
The couple lives in 4S Ranch with their four children. On Thursday, law enforcement officials arrested the couple in the East County and 4S Ranch as part of a narcotics investigation.
They both bailed out of jail Thursday night. Jennifer is expect in court Tuesday, while Bryce is scheduled to appear in court June 12.
“There’s just a lot going on right now with the police department, with the sheriff’s department – you know, competition between the two departments. I don’t know if that’s some of what has to do with this,” Jennifer told NBC 7.
“All I can say is we were really caught off guard and we both have our court dates and we’re innocent until proven guilty. It will go the way that it’s supposed to go in court. That’s what I’m hopeful for – for my friends, family and kids,” she continued.
In a statement, SDPD Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said both officers have been placed on leave, but did not say whether it is paid or unpaid leave.
Zimmerman said she and the department are disheartened and disappointed. She says SDPD will launch an internal investigation into the case.
"We will conduct a thorough investigation," Zimmerman said. "If it shows that any member of our department has made the terrible decision to discredit the badge, dishonor our noble profession, we don't want them working here."
Jennifer works for the SDPD’s Western Division, while Bryce – a six-year veteran of the department – works with the Mid-City Division, according to SDPD.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation on the Charpentiers. Zimmerman said SDPD is fully cooperating with the investigation.
Neighbors of the couple told NBC 7 they’re shocked by the drug allegations. They said the Charpentiers and their children were together often, playing tether ball and other games in the front yard of their 4S Ranch home.
In divorce documents, both Jennifer's ex-husband and Bryce's ex-wife accused them of abusing prescription drugs.
In an exclusive interview, Jennifer showed NBC 7 a doctor's letter from 2012, which explained that Bryce had been prescribed the painkiller Norco for back pain and other issues, but to the doctor's knowledge, he never abused it.
Jennifer said at one point, her husband became sick after stopping painkillers after taking them for an extended period of time. She believes that is the reason his ex-wife was able to say he was dependent on painkillers and went through a detox.
Jennifer said the accusation from her ex-husband is also false. She showed NBC 7 documents from a child custody hearing that said there were no allegations of drug abuse.
Jennifer insisted there are no illegal drugs in their home, cars or any other location associated with the couple.
"There is nothing illegal in this house, nor has there ever been. I don't know why then we were able to be charged and arrested," she said. "I don't understand that, 18 years of law enforcement and I can't understand that."
This case is just one of several very public scandals that have plagued the San Diego Police Department in recent months. Zimmerman took over the top position of chief amid these cases, which included police officers accused of sexual misconduct on the job.
On Friday, despite this latest snag for SDPD, Zimmerman insisted she’s continuing to instill a culture of excellence in the department. She said the community of San Diego deserves this, and the department demands it.
Jennifer said she feels bad that these allegations have once again shined the spotlight on the police department, but insisted the case has nothing to do with SDPD, other than the fact that she and her husband are both officers.
“I very much apologize that anything was brought to light in reference to the police department, because there is no connection in this case, as there was in all the other cases. There’s no connection whatsoever," she said. "Nothing that I’m accused of doing or that my husband is accused of doing was ever done on duty or is in any way connected with the police department."