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Anchorage Alaska

Discussion in 'Police News Articles' started by kwflatbed, Oct 21, 2005.

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  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Cop owned child porn, police say faces child porn charges


    Officer also accused of trying to watch teen girl undress.

    By TATABOLINE BRANT, Anchorage Daily News
    A veteran Anchorage police officer accused of having dozens of images of children engaged in sex acts on his work and home computers was arrested Tuesday on child pornography charges.

    Bryan N. Herrera, 42, faces charges of possessing and distributing child pornography and of attempting to use a remote-controlled camera to take pictures of a teenage girl undressing, according to charging documents filed in court at his arraignment Tuesday.

    Herrera is the fifth officer from Alaska law enforcement agencies to face serious criminal charges over the past two years, and the second Anchorage police officer arrested on child pornography charges in four months.

    Police Chief Walt Monegan said Tuesday that he was deeply disturbed by the two arrests at his department but also is proud his detectives were investigating the cases with the same vigor they do other cases. He said he hoped the public would judge the department on "the actions of the many, not the few."

    Police started investigating Herrera, a 12-year veteran of the department, on Oct. 11 after receiving a tip about the remote-controlled camera from a family friend.

    Officers interviewed Herrera's wife, Janelle, who told them that she had also heard about the camera. She said she had confronted her husband about it and he denied there was one, according to court documents. Janelle also told police that she and her husband had been arguing for some time because he had been downloading pornography, the documents say.

    "She said she was quite upset because she believed he was lying to her about the (camera)," Detective Kevin Vandegriff wrote in the charging documents.

    Janelle told officers that her husband had been downloading pornography since they got married about six years ago. The couple has four children.

    Earlier this year, she told investigators, she found a "large number" of images on the family computer -- some of which had pre-pubescent female children posed in sexual ways, although not having sex with adults, the documents say.

    "She said she confronted him about the images and was prepared to leave him," Vandegriff wrote. "She said that he promised her he would seek help."

    Herrera was placed on paid administrative leave Oct. 12, police said. He was relieved of all police authority and equipment.

    Meanwhile, police executed search warrants on Herrera's home, office, vehicles and police locker. In one of the locations, officers found a camera that could be operated remotely, complete with packaging and a receipt with Bryan Herrera's name on it, charges say.

    Police confronted Herrera about the camera. Until that point, he had told them he had downloaded only adult porn through file-sharing.

    But now Herrera told them he put the camera in a bedroom in order to watch a 16-year-old girl -- not one of his children -- undress.

    "He also acknowledged that he had been downloading child pornography from the Internet," Vandegriff wrote in the charging documents.

    Police say they found child porn images and videos on a laptop computer seized from Herrera's master bedroom. Some of them showed children having sex with one another and with adults, the documents say.

    Another computer drive at the home turned up similar images. One video, "Waylander Kiddie Collection," was a slide show put to music depicting at least 20 different little girls ranging in age from 1 to about 13 involved in sex acts with adults. Additional images and videos were found on the laptop in Herrera's patrol cruiser, police said.

    At his arraignment Tuesday, Herrera hid his face behind his copy of the charging documents. He did not enter a plea. His bail was set at $100,000 cash, with the conditions that he has no contact with his family or access to firearms or computers.

    Herrera was assigned to the Warrants Section of the police department before his arrest, a job that mainly dealt with transporting adult prisoners. His job before that did involve children sometimes. For example, according to news stories, he helped with a Youth At Risk bike safety event in 1999.

    He also made news last winter, when he struck and killed an 85-year-old woman with his squad car while patrolling in Eagle River, an event police said at the time weighed heavily on him. The accident occurred on a dark and foggy night and police deemed it was not Herrera's fault.

    Four of the five law enforcement officers who have been arrested in Alaska in the last two years have faced sex-related charges: In December, longtime Airport Police and Fire officer James Wayne Merculief was charged with sexually abusing two young boys; in August, former Alaska state trooper Daniel Scott was sentenced to four years in prison for sexually assaulting three village women while he was a trooper; and in June, Anchorage police officer Sammy Cohen was arrested on allegations that he sexually abused his daughter and possessed child pornography.

    Monegan said Tuesday that those arrests led him to review his department's hiring procedures before the Herrera case even came up. Monegan said he spoke with the psychologists who interview APD applicants -- one of many steps in the application process -- to make sure there wasn't something the department was failing to ask regarding sexual issues. But, he said, the doctors already spend a significant amount of time trying to identify any sexual problems.

    Also, Monegan said, the department's polygraph and background checks -- two other aspects of the application process -- exhaust the issue, right down to asking would-be officers whether they've ever been unfaithful.

    There is no periodic testing, however, so if a problem develops after an officer is hired, the department might not find out about it.

    Monegan said that in the last 12 years -- the amount of time Herrera and Cohen have been with the department -- the department has investigated about 3,000 cases involving sexual offenses against children. In that same time, five of the department's officers have been charged with those crimes. "The statistics are fairly good on our side that this doesn't happen very often," Monegan said.

    Cohen and Herrera were classmates in the same police academy class, but investigators see no connection between the two cases, Lt. Paul Honeman said.

    The system of vetting officers for hire will never be foolproof, Monegan said. But the men and women who work at the department hold themselves to an ideal, not a person, and take their charge to protect and serve seriously, he said.

    "If one of us crosses the line, those who work with them will hold them accountable," he said.
    Bryan Herrera, 42, was arraigned Tuesday on several child pornography charges. He is the second Anchorage police officer to be arrested on these charges in four months.; ; JIM LAVRAKAS / Anchorage Daily News; Anchorage police officer Bryan Herrera used charging documents to shield his face during his arraignment Tuesday at the Anchorage jail.
     
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