A state police officer in California has admitted that he has several times searched cell phones of suspects for naked pictures, sent them to himself and then sent them to other officers as well so they could make lewd remarks about them.
A California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from the cell phones of DUI suspects has told investigators he and other officers have been doing it for several years.
According to documents acquired by the Contra-Costa Times, CHP Officer Sean Harrington, who was accused of stealing photos earlier this week, confessed to stealing explicit photos from the cellphone of a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect in August and sharing them with fellow officers, describing it as a “game.”
Harrington told investigators he has been stolen photos “half dozen times in the last several years,” forwarding them with leering text messages to fellow officer Officer Robert Hazelwood.
The investigation into Harrington began following an Aug. 29 arrest of the San Ramon woman who discovered photos had been stolen from her phone five days after her release, when she noticed on her iPad that the photos had been sent to an unknown number. According to the woman, a record of the messages had been deleted from her iPhone but the information was available on the iPad which was synched to the phone.After contacting authorities, Contra Costa district attorney inspector Darryl Holcombe compared video surveillance and time-stamped text messages from the woman’s phone and determined Harrington was in possession of the woman’s phone at the moment the photos were forwarded. The woman was being processed in the Martinez County Jail at the time when the photos were stolen, according to court records.
Harrington admitted under questioning that he stole five photographs from the woman and forwarded at least one to Hazelwood.
This is why the Supreme Court ruled in June that the police could not search someone’s cell phone, before or after arrest, without a warrant. But there needs to be real consequences for this and it isn’t enough that someone can sue the police department over it, which doesn’t cost the officer anything. Those who break the law need to be punished, especially police officers.