A longtime Spokane police officer who accessed a whole lot of sexually specific photographs utilizing a division pc in 2019 was suspended for 3 weeks and relieved of duties managing a division program earlier this 12 months.
Officer Dan Cole, who was employed by the division in 1986, was positioned on paid administrative go away in January after metropolis info know-how workers reviewed his pc use in December, in response to data requested by The Spokesman-Assessment. His pc log confirmed visits to pornography and prostitution web sites whereas on and off obligation.
One different officer was discovered to have visited a prostitution web site however it appeared associated to his work investigating human trafficking, in response to investigative data. Laptop data additionally confirmed he primarily visited the web site’s homepage.
Cole, nevertheless, navigated deeper into an identical prostitution web site to view particular pictures and appeared to have searched the web for specific photographs, in response to investigative data.
A panel of police officers additionally concluded that Cole offered false statements about his pc use throughout an interview with investigators however Chief Craig Meidl determined there was not adequate proof to show he lied.
Previous to the investigation, Cole, a day-shift patrol officer, was concerned in property crime investigations and oversaw the automated license plate studying, or ALPR, program that searches for autos concerned in crimes. Police officers decided his rank of officer was not sufficient to steer the ALPR program and selected to terminate his position investigating property crimes.
Investigators estimated Cole spent about an hour of on-duty time on specific web sites between January 10, 2019 and January 10 of this 12 months, in response to investigative data. His pc confirmed greater than 230 makes an attempt to entry probably pornographic photographs throughout that interval, in addition to greater than 220 makes an attempt from September 2018 to June 2019.
Cole mentioned he typically used his metropolis pc whereas off obligation to proceed doing police work, though he wasn’t paid time beyond regulation and didn’t have permission from a supervisor.
At some point in September 2018 pc logs confirmed Cole tried to view 83 pictures of an grownup movie actress on 25 completely different web sites, indicating use of a search engine picture search, in response to investigative data. And through one afternoon in June 2019 data confirmed makes an attempt to entry 51 pictures of a Hollywood actress on 14 completely different web sites.
His pc historical past additionally confirmed an online search that returned photographs of artwork depicting “principally nude overweight females.” Cole mentioned he didn’t keep in mind the incident however conceded he might need completed this as a result of it was “goofy.”
Cole initially denied viewing pornographic photographs for private causes whereas on obligation, in response to investigative data. As a substitute, he claimed his pc log could have mirrored specific pop-up advertisements and that his frequent visits to a well-liked native prostitution web site had been to collect intelligence on crime suspects.
One go to to New York’s model of this prostitution web site was out of curiosity, he mentioned.
Cole did make clear, nevertheless, that he loved taking a look at a number of the pictures of native prostitutes, which included nude photographs, whereas making an attempt to establish if any had been concerned in latest crimes. He in contrast this to having fun with driving at excessive speeds to a 911 name.
“I’m a dude,” Cole mentioned. “However in search of the images was not for my very own objective… I didn’t assume that will get me in hassle.”
However investigators decided Cole had solely minor involvement in a single case associated to the prostitution web site and didn’t obtain permission from a supervisor to entry it, in response to investigative data.
Metropolis info know-how workers additionally had been unable to duplicate any pop-up advertisements by visiting the identical prostitution web site as Cole, in response to investigative paperwork.
He later admitted that he was “100% unsuitable” to go to a prostitution for “each work and private causes” throughout a gathering with police officers earlier than Meidl handed down a disciplinary resolution, in response to metropolis human sources paperwork. However Cole maintained that he by no means immediately visited pornographic web sites and prevented saying whether or not he used a search engine to search for specific photographs.
“It was defined to you that this conduct is just not solely a violation of SPD insurance policies, it additionally negatively displays on the company,” mentioned a disciplinary letter despatched to Cole in June from Meidl and former Metropolis Administrator Wes Crago. “What one officer does is a mirrored image of each officer within the company.”
Cole was ordered to serve his three-week suspension by Aug. 15 and remained in his position as a patrol officer as of Tuesday, in response to Sgt. Terry Preuninger, a police spokesman.