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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

REPRINT: Officers Had Sex On Job

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Files: Officers Had Sex On Job

By Hicham Raache
Times Record • hraache@swtimes.com
Fort Smith Police Department documents reveal that suspended officer Steven Hutchinson had sex in a squad car while on duty.

Another officer, Cpl. Brandon Bird, 31, was suspended without pay for three days in December for similar allegations. He admitted to having sexual contact — with the same woman — while on duty in a police vehicle on Feb. 8, 2007.

Hutchinson, 31, began his 12-day suspension without pay Tuesday when he opted not to appeal Police Chief Kevin Lindsey’s decision to discipline him for what an internal investigation found to be violations of the Fort Smith Police Department’s Rules and Regulations, according to Sgt. Levi Risley.

In documents obtained by the Times Record through a Freedom of Information Act request, Sgt. Dawn Sprayberry stated that she had received a letter on Nov. 20 from an anonymous source alleging that two officers had engaged in sexual activities with a former Sebastian County sheriff’s deputy while on duty. The letter accused Hutchinson and Bird of having sex with the former deputy while she was taken on civilian ride-alongs at night.

“She would ride with them when they were on the north side of town so they could park on Clayton (Expressway) and have sex or sexual acts,” the anonymous source stated in a hand-written letter. “I know these officers are married and I am telling you this to protect their wifes (sic) mainly. Yes it’s unethical of them to do such a thing, but it’s also unfair to the wifes that may contract disease and not even be aware.”

Sprayberry stated that, upon receiving the letter, she conducted an internal investigation and interviewed Hutchinson and Bird as well as the woman both officers are accused of having sex with. She said Bird admitted to his “misconduct.”

The woman was referred to as a “dispatcher.” Risley confirmed that the woman is an employee of the Fort Smith Police Department.

The woman, whose name was redacted in documents provided to the Times Record, initially denied the allegation but admitted to having sex with Bird after Sprayberry informed her of the officer’s admission. She also said that she had performed oral sex on officer Hutchinson during a ride-along.

Sprayberry met with Hutchinson on Dec. 12 and explained to him that he had been accused of sexual misconduct while on duty.

“He became visibly upset and tears welled up in his eyes,” Sprayberry stated. “He admitted he had committed sex acts while on duty.”

Sprayberry said Hutchinson revealed the details of his “affair” with the woman beginning September 2007.

Hutchinson, she said, admitted to going to the woman’s home while on duty on more than one occasion, sometimes taking his lunch break and sometimes not, and committing some type of sexual act. He also admitted that on one occasion while on duty during daylight hours he met the woman behind a closed business for oral sex.

“I asked him how many times this occurred and he began saying less than five, then said it could be as many as seven, but he really couldn’t put a number on it,” Sprayberry stated.

Bird told Sprayberry he had sexual contact with the woman during a ride-along while he was working the night shift, according to documents.

“I recognize this is a policy violation and regret my actions,” according to a letter from Bird to Lindsey. “I should have never engaged in this act nor will I ever again. I feel I have brought shame on the department and myself.”

Lindsey notified Hutchinson on Dec. 22 that by engaging in sexual activity on multiple occasions while on duty he had violated the following Rules and Regulations:

• 303. Officers shall not engage in any personal act or conduct which, if brought to the attention of the public, could result in justified criticism of that officer or the Department. No officer shall be personally involved in disturbances or police incidents to his/her discredit.

• 419. Officers shall remain alert, observant and occupied with police business during their tour of duty. While on duty, officers shall devote their entire time and attention to the business of the Department.

• 420. Officers are prohibited from engaging in the following activities while on duty: ... Any sexual conduct or act.

Lindsey stated in the letter to Hutchinson, who has been with the Police Department for five years, that his suspension would be effective Jan. 6 through Jan. 23. Bird is accused of violating the same Rules and Regulations for engaging in sexual activity, with a female rider, while on duty.

Hutchinson was commended by Police Department administration Nov. 3, 2006, for assisting investigators in probing a shooting that occurred at the Ramada Inn on Oct. 28, 2006.

In April 2004, Bird and another police officer pulled a handicapped man, who was confined to a wheelchair, from a burning house on Alabama Avenue. Bird and the other officer received life-saving awards at a city board of directors meeting in June 2004, according to Times Record archives.

Whether disciplinary action will be taken against the female employee involved is still under inquiry, Lindsey said Wednesday.

Times Record reporter Amy Sherrill contributed to this report.

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