Police Officers Association Director On Facebook: Being Sexually Assaulted By A State Trooper Is Hilarious!

from the optional-brain-keyboard-filter-not-installed dept

If you've ever wondered why public agencies have such ridiculously stringent social media policies (for instance, DHS employees can't even view the agency's Facebook page while at work), it's likely because of unfortunate instances like the following.

A Texas state trooper charged with sexually assaulting two women during a traffic stop was providing them with "customer service," says Dale Roberts, the executive director of the Columbia Police Officers Association (CPOA) and a professor at the University of Missouri. (The CPOA is a part of the Fraternal Order of Police, one of the country's largest police unions.)

"It's called Customer Service!" Roberts wrote in a March 27 Facebook post about the indictment of Texas State Trooper Kelly Helleson, who was charged with two counts of sexual assault after conducting an illegal roadside strip search of two women. "We just did it so they wouldn't have to make the trip all the way down to the station," he added.
Beautiful.

Granted, Dale Roberts isn't actually a government employee, but he is a member of a group that is pretty much inseparable from law enforcement. Roberts, through his personal Facebook account, has managed to portray the groups he represents as populated with the sort of people who laugh off serious police misconduct. As you can see in the screenshot archived by Keep Columbia Free, Roberts seemed to think that it was worth joking repeatedly about this indictment.

Obviously, Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley probably don't see the humor in the situation because they were the "situation." Here's a quick rundown of the events that led to Trooper Helleson's indictment.

The two women were pulled over last year by Helleson and fellow trooper David Farrell (who was charged with theft when a bottle of prescription pills went missing from Dobbs' vehicle after the illegal search) in Irving, Texas, after throwing a cigarette butt out the window of their car. Farrell came up to the car and claimed he smelled marijuana. When a search of the vehicle didn't turn up any pot, he instructed Helleson to conduct a cavity search on the women, who Farrell said were "acting weird." That's when Helleson, in plain view of passing cars on Highway 161 (and the dashboard camera in her cruiser), stuck her hand down the back and front of both women's pants, searching their genitals. To make matters worse, Helleson conducted both searches without changing her latex gloves. In short order, the Dobbs filed suit and video of the stop was posted on Youtube. [Following video possibly NSFW.]

As if his original post wasn't offensive enough, Robert's followed it up with another pithy sexual assault joke, stating "Evidently, the [sic] searched them downtown without going downtown." It should also be noted that Roberts has a hard time keeping his keyboard from overriding his better judgement. He was also criticized for a making a racist joke on the CPOA's Facebook page (where he is an administrator) last month.

Government agencies and closely-aligned entities contain just as many badly behaving and ill-mannered people as any cross section of the populace. Harsh social media policies are a direct result of actions like these. It would be nice to see people like Roberts weeded out of influential organizations by this sort of offensive stupidity, but the most common reaction seems to be across-the-board social media restrictions. Muzzling people with policy is simpler than cleaning up any internet messes they might make.

Whether Roberts likes it or not, he is the face of the CPOA, whether posting on the association's Facebook page or his personal one. He may just be "joking," but his subject matter isn't appropriate considering his position with the police union. Roberts is welcome to say whatever he wants, but the CPOA would be greatly served by ousting a repeat offender that portrays the organization in a negative light. Silence on this matter implies approval of Roberts' comments and strongly suggests that many in the organization believe that abusing citizens is not only OK, but inherently funny.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    John Henry (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Most dangerous gang in town is also the funniest, apparently.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 2:39pm

    ... the CPOA would be greatly served by ousting a repeat offender that portrays the organization in a negative light. Silence on this matter implies approval of Roberts' comments and strongly suggests that many in the organization believe that abusing citizens is not only OK, but inherently funny.


    So we have an idiot that works for CPOA and maybe it's just me, but doesn't that just reflect on them. If they want to be portrayed as the new sexist, racist, homophobic, etc organization, then all the power to them. I would rather see the official police commissioners take a stand and distance themselves from these fools.

     

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  3.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 2:41pm

    As abhorrent as the police's actions were during that, what will undoubtedly be even more offensive will be the slap on the wrist, and maybe some paid leave that the offending officers are likely to receive.

    Really it's no wonder scum like this guy feels like he can make jokes like that, it's not like officers are actual held accountable for their actions most of the time.

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    Re:

    I'm sure politic noises will be made, have no fear.

     

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  5.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    That whole episode is absolutely fucking disgusting. Hopefully both of those cops are fired and brought up on assault charges.

     

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  6.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 3:17pm

    Re:

    Guess I should have read the whole thing. Glad to see the officers were charged. Hopefully they both get the maximum sentence.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 3:34pm

    He's just practicing for his promotion to the TSA next week.

     

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  8.  
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    Lurker Keith, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    typo

    ...downtown with going downtown.


    "With" should be "without".

     

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  9.  
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    Wolfy, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 4:49pm

    Re: typo

    It was directly quoted from the Executive Director's facebook page.

     

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  10.  
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    Aidian Holder, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 5:02pm

    Actually, he is a public employee

    A Couple of Thoughts:

    1) The idiot from CPOA is actually a public employee -- a professor at Mizzou. Looks like he made just under $17,000 as an adjunct in the school of management last year. Almost more disturbing to see it come from a professor. You expect that kind of violence, abuse, and corruption from the police. You usually don't get it from a college professor.

    2) I'm not sure that this scumbag should be punished for what he said on his own facebook page. It was his page, and assuming he used his computer on his time, it's none of his employer's business. There's an argument that that's especially true inasmuch as he's employed by the government, but at least in a perfect and/or just world it would be equally true no matter who he works for. It would be perfectly appropriate to kick him in the nuts or something, but only on an unofficial basis.

    Of course this is a moot point, as the racist joke on the CPOA page should be plenty of cause to fire him from his role there. Of course, I doubt

    3) Actually it's kinda surprising to see this come out of Columbia. Columbia is a little lefty oasis of college town diversity right in the middle of a red state, and the cops there are in my experience pretty decent (you know, for being cops and all).

    It helps that Mizzou is home to the world's oldest (and best) school of journalism, which means the town is positively overrun with bright, eager young things just looking for a good story about bad cops (the school also plays host to Investigative Reporters and Editors and the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting; city government there is the most watched, and the cleanest, government I've ever seen. I almost feel sorry for 'em)

     

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  11.  
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    special-interesting (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 5:06pm

    Another reason to abolish drug laws of any sort. (including prescription nonsense) There is no civilized reason to treat people this way. Society gone mad seems best way to describe it. Laws that allow even the possibility of the abuse of such power are an anathema to healthy civil society. Hard to call such enforcement legitimate regardless of whether it was or not.

    None of this is funny at any level. Trying to infer that any part or event was humorous only makes it scarier.

    It might be good to introduce the most feared deterrent a police officer would suffer. A “shining letter of recommendation.” An EXTREAMLY polite letter outlining the incident and its effects on your life or world view. Get your lawyer to help write it. Just stating ones opinion on the mental fitness of an officer is a powerful thing.

    Many a promotion have been passed over because of such obvious detrimental public opinion. These letters often stick around for life and force many to switch cities or even move to another state.

     

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  12.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 5:30pm

    Re: typo

    Oops. Fixed.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    Freedom?

    Is this an example of the "Land of the free" that the American anthem is referring to?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 8:05pm

    Illegal search

    Farrell came up to the car and claimed he smelled marijuana. When a search of the vehicle didn't turn up any pot, he instructed Helleson to conduct a cavity search on the women, who Farrell said were "acting weird."

    Don't worry. Thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision on the use of drug-sniffing dogs in vehicular searches, all cops will need to do in the future to justify such a search is to train their dogs to bark on command.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 8:21pm

    Back in the olden days, towns used to like cops (ie: Andy Griffin. I know this is kinda fake but still). Cops, the sheriff and deputy were known for doing community favors like walking old ladies across the street, everyone knew them and they did all sorts of chores for everyone on duty. If you didn't do anything wrong no one really feared the cops and most communities liked them.

    Now cops, and the way they portray themselves, is very different. When people see cops people are extra careful not to break some arbitrary and silly law. Everyone becomes paranoid. Having a cop around is not re-assuring anymore, they're not considered friendly helpers that help old ladies cross the street or with their groceries. No, I guess that's considered to ruin their image or something? Now having a cop around is more likely to put people on edge. It's weird how things have changed.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2013 @ 1:44am

    Re:

    The reason it's usually paid leave (it's actually a paid suspension- the difference is that someone on leave can return to work whenever they like, while someone who is suspended cannot) is because it occurs during the investigation. (the point of the suspension is to prevent them from continuing to commit the offense, not to punish them)

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2013 @ 2:01am

    Re: Re:

    oh, I should clarify- I'm not defending a slap on the wrist, just pointing out that the paid suspension is to allow for investigation. Or should someone accused of something be punished without proof? ( note, please, that investigations into things like this aren't usually quick. If it was an unpaid suspension, then the officer under investigation may have difficulty in being able to afford to pay the bills. Yes, you could give back pay if they were exonerated. (though I don't think you do) That doesn't help, for example, pay for things like food during the suspension. Nor does it help if you get foreclosed upon for non-payment of a mortgage. Techdirt has complained (rightfully) about chilling effects before. What of the chilling effects unpaid suspension could have on law enforcement? If a complaint could result in an officer having their life ruined no matter if it is proven true or false... Therefore, it is a paid suspension so that if the officer is exonerated, the suspension can be lifted and no harm done.)

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2013 @ 3:23am

    Re:

    Ultimately, it comes down to how police officers see themselves:
    1. As members of the community first, police officers second ( the "watchman" model)
    2. as members of the police first- this produces the "us against them" mentality that cases these issues

    what caused the change? I would guess that it was the separation of the political class from their constituents combined with a change in who police officers saw themselves as beholden to. Police went from seeing themselves as being beholden to the community to being beholden to the government. When said government is increasingly distant from the community... This also explains the TSA's issues. They were created distant from the people they police.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2013 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you can not afford the consequences, then maybe you should not violate the law. I'm sure there are many officers who support this opinion and believe that it applies to everyone.

    In most other employment situations, the offending employee would be fired on the spot.

     

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  20.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 4th, 2013 @ 9:47am

    When the child predator sting turns up one of their own they let them go. NOTHING surprises me after reading that.

    NOTHING surprises me:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121022/19034720796/police-department-rewards-officer-caught -online-pedophile-sting-with-full-retirement-benefits.shtml

     

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  21.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Apr 4th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    wtf ?

    for the rest of us hoi polloi, we simply get FIRED, EVEN IF it was something not our fault or doing... WHY isn't a donut eater fired when it is DEFINTELY their fault ? ? ?

    see recent story of gay guy at applebees who got fired because a lady he worked with got her boyfriend/husband to beat the living shit out of the gay guy, and HE got fired...

    because HIM getting the shit beat out of him was 'controversial'; note, the POS chick did NOT get fired, 'cause -i'm guessing- beating the shit out teh gays isn't -you know- controversial...

    (to his credit, applebees exec intervened and got the guy hired back...)

    no, it ain't some sort of benefit to the public that kops stay on paid leave while the coverup, er, i mean 'investigation' goes on... i call bullshit on that...
    WE get fired, THEY get paid off...

    ALL KOPS are corrupt, PERIOD...
    here's how i KNOW that is a FACT at EVERY police precinct in the country: there ARE kops on the take at every level, there are kops who break laws, there are kops who are abusing and stealing 10x's worse than the perps they abuse...
    *AND* you KNOW that other kops KNOW who is doing what dirt, yet, you almost NEVER hear of a serpico stepping up to call out his fellow kops for their corruption...
    THAT is why i KNOW they are ALL corrupt...

    thin blue line my ass...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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