On Tuesday afternoon, January 17th, the Modesto Police Department received a letter from an anonymous citizen, addressed to Chief Michael Harden. The anonymous person had also sent this letter to the City Manager and several news media outlets. The letter contained nine colored photographs depicting two officers pictured with women. The first set of photographs depict a uniformed Modesto Police officer along with two women sitting on top of a patrol car. The women were wearing revealing clothing as they posed on top of and next to a patrol car. There are seven photographs in this set.
A second set of photographs depict a different uniformed Modesto Police officer in what appears to be a downtown night club or restaurant standing next to a woman in a bikini top. The other photograph in this set depicts this same officer standing outside of a downtown nightclub, with a woman who is signing a poster next to a patrol car.
After reviewing the photographs, it is apparent these photographs are over 2½ years old and occurred in the Downtown Entertainment District. The Downtown Entertainment District is comprised of various restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Although the Department is concerned and has initiated an Internal Affairs investigation into this matter, it is important to differentiate between the two sets of photographs.
The first set depicts a former Modesto Police officer, who is no longer employed with the Department. He was separated from employment on February 2010. It is evident that the pictures in which he is depicted are completely inappropriate, unprofessional, and unacceptable. If this individual was still employed with the Department, he would be facing severe discipline. There is absolutely no justification or rationale that could excuse his conduct in this set of photographs.
The second set of photographs involves an 8-year veteran Modesto Police officer of the Department. Although the photographs in which he is depicted are less suggestive, the Department has initiated an internal investigation to determine if there are any policies or procedures which may have been violated. Police officers are routinely asked to be photographed with members of the community and are entrusted to use good discretion and judgment.
“The Modesto Police Department remains committed to providing professional services to our citizens. Although this incident is a blemish to the Department, this behavior does not represent the hard work and commitment from the men and women of this organization” said Chief Michael Harden. “We understand the importance of maintaining a professional organization and we are committed to maintaining the trust of those we serve.”