California Highway Patrol Officers Accused of Stealing Female Suspects' Nude Pics Need to Be Punished

Some people never grow out of their party days, even if they become law enforcement. After a disturbing discovery, Contra Costa County prosecutors are investigating at least two California Highway Patrol officers for stealing nude pics of female suspects and passing them around to each other. Like a bunch of horny teenagers, they'd allegedly comment on the suspects' bodies and encourage each other to send more. What's worse, it was apparently common practice among officers across several offices in California. And these are the men who are supposed to be protecting and serving us?

According to the Contra Costa Times, the incident that spawned the investigation occurred on August 29 just after midnight. CHP officer Sean Harrington and his partner stopped a 23-year-old San Ramon woman for making an unsafe lane change. She failed a sobriety test with a blood alcohol level of .29 percent and was taken into custody at the Martinez county jail. But before she was taken in, the woman told investigators that Harrington had asked for her cellphone and password, and she obliged. Five days later, she noticed that some of her photos had been sent to an unknown number, which investigators later determined belonged to Harrington.

On October 10, investigators obtained a search warrant and seized Harrington's cell phone and laptop, which contained the stolen photos along with text messages and instant messages from the woman's phone.

It gets worse. According to court records, when Harrington was questioned about the incident, he admitted to stealing five photos from the woman and sending at least one to a fellow officer named Robert Hazelwood, saying he'd sent similar pictures of female suspects a "half dozen times in the last several years." Why? Because it was apparently a time-honored tradition among CHP officers. Contra Costa District Attorney inspector Darryl Holcombe wrote in the court documents:

Harrington said he first learned of this scheme when he was working in the Los Angeles Office. Harrington said when he was assigned to the Dublin Office, he learned from other Officers that they would access the cell phones of female arrestees and look for nude photographs of them. Harrington said if photographs were located, the officers would then text the photographs to other sworn members of the office, and, to non-CHP individuals.

Examples of the text messages that would accompany the stolen photos? "Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!" ("10-15x" is CHP code for a female in custody.) The context of the text? The court documents revealed that this was the text Harrington sent Hazelwood after confiscating the cell phone of a 19-year-old suspect who may have been getting X-rays taken after a car crash. The document shows that in response, Hazelwood replied, "No ... nudes?" Appalling does not begin to describe this situation.

Other texts shown in the documents include Harrington telling another officer, "Just rerun a favor down the road buddy. :)." In other words, "Let's keep this tradition going."

Now, investigators expect a decision about charges against the officers to be made this week. According to a search warrant affidavit, the CPH officers are facing felony computer theft charges.

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