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Stealing and forwarding nude photos from females' phones is a 'game,' cop claims

Creepy cops allegedly have been partaking in sleazy games that involve 'stealing' nude or explicit photos from female DUI suspects’ phones and then forwarding the photos in texts to other officers.

California Highway Patrol
Credit: California Highway Patrol

Stealing nude photos from female DUI suspects’ phones is a 'game,' a California Highway Patrol officer claimed, but another name for that game is felony computer theft. Nevertheless, some officers have been stealing photos from female arrestees’ phones for years and passing them on to other officers.

35-year old officer Sean Harrington, a five-year CHP veteran, allegedly confessed to stealing explicit photos from female Contra Costa County DUI suspects a “half dozen times in the last several years” and forwarding those images to “at least two other CHP officers.” He called it a “game” that he learned while “working in the Los Angeles Office.”

According to court records, 23-year-old “Jane Doe” didn’t notice the “six photos of her in various stages of undress” had been stolen until five days after her release. There was no record of the forwarded photos in her iPhone, but since her phone was synced to her iPad via Apple’s iCloud, she saw the explicit photos in her “photos” app; she noticed the images had been sent via text to an unknown number. That number belonged to her arresting officer; video surveillance and time-stamps on the forwarded photo texts indicated her phone was in a cop’s possession at the time.

After Harrington sent “at least one explicit photo” to another Dublin CHP officer, Robert Hazelwood, Hazelwood replied, “Nudes are always better with the face.” Harrington suggested she had a “jacked up horse face” and the two creepy cops then sent texts talking about how she was a "5 or a 6 at best" but had a "rocking" body. They planned to look at her face via her driver’s license photo and upcoming mug shot. Here are the excerpts of the exchanged text messages between officers discussing the photos, but be warned that the messages contain explicit language.

Then there’s the scandal of two stolen bikini photos from the phone of 19-year-old “Jane Doe 2.” Harrington allegedly sent texts with the photos to Hazelwood. “Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!” 10-15x is police radio code for female "prisoner in custody/party to be arrested." Hazelwood then complained because the photos were not nudes.

In an affidavit, senior Contra Costa District Attorney Inspector Darryl Holcombe wrote that he “believed Harrington, Hazelwood and others unlawfully accessed a computer system and stole computer data. Prosecutors are to decide next week whether anyone will face criminal charges.” Decide if charges should be filed? Is that supposed to be a flipping joke? It would certainly be considered a crime if it was done by anyone outside the good ole boys’ club.

The San Jose Mercury News then looked at similar sleazy cases across the country. For example, a Morgan Hill California cop found and then uploaded a nude photo from a female arrestee’s phone to her Facebook profile, before another cop allegedly accessed her phone to delete evidence of violating police protocol. Another woman alleged that after “she reluctantly shared her cell phone password with an officer to access a phone number,” that New York cop stole “25 intimate photos and videos” from her iPhone and forwarded them to another officer.

Meanwhile, the director and ethics teacher at Rio Hondo Police Academy likened the accused men actions to that of "frat boys" but that it doesn’t mean all cops are creeps. "When you have several thousand officers in your department, there are going to be some bad apples."

Those “bad apple” officers are exactly why you should have a passcode lock on your phone and not hand over that PIN number.

Maybe they didn’t hand over the code, but handed over their phones to show proof of insurance? Personally I was appalled by Maxwell the Pig Geico digital insurance card commercials, not because a talking pig was driving, but because he handed his phone over to a cop to show proof of insurance. What the commercial calls “cool,” I call stupidity.

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