Police Union Director Jokes on Facebook About Two Women Being Sexually Assaulted by a Police Officer
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. A screenshot of Roberts' post was taken by Keep Columbia Free, a civil liberties blog run by Mark Flakne.
Angel Dobbs and her niece Ashley Dobbs definitely didn't see it as customer service. The two women were pulled over last year by Helleson and fellow trooper David Farrell 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. As Reason's Brian Doherty noted, Helleson and Farrell were charged last week.
In addition to cracking jokes about the Dobbs' assault (including, in the comment section of his own Facebook post, "Evidently, the [sic] searched them downtown without going downtown"), Roberts recently came under fire for a racist joke he posted last month on CPOA's Facebook page.
"If CPD rolled up in the new Mercedes 6×16, you KNOW all the boys in the hood would come running out the house," Roberts wrote on the CPOA Facebook page. The post was in regards to the Columbia Police Department's campaign to get the city to buy it a Mercedes 6×16, which is an armored personnel carrier used by the military. After Columbia's mayor called the Facebook post racist, Roberts apologized, saying it was "intended to be satirical in nature."
While Dale Roberts is not a police officer, he is the head of the Columbia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Missouri, and an instructor at the University of Missouri's Law Enforcement Training Institute. You'd think he'd have better judgement.