The U.S. Marshal’s Office arrested Margate police officer Andrew Hammock during his road patrol shift on Tuesday after it was discovered that he was soliciting pictures of a minor who was engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Hammock, who has been with the department since September 2002, was put on leave with no pay until the conclusion of the criminal case and internal investigation.
The Sun Sentinel reported that Hammock was caught engaging in the illegal behavior after FBI agents answered a social media posting from Hammock, whose online name is allegedly “Playful_guy,” that read “feel like peeking and being peeked at by a younger girl” The agent, who was pretending to be a 14-year-old girl, began communicating with Hammock who said he was 46, married, and worked as a police officer.
Here’s a glimpse into the conversation Hammock had with an officer who posed as a 14-year-old girl.
After the “girl” responded to the social media post, Hammock allegedly told her that any photos she shared would be kept confidential and even “urged her to send pictures of “in-between” outfit changes, among other suggestions.” The criminal complaint says that the officer told the girl “You are perfect and exactly my dream girl.” He urged her to be “more open-minded” and expressed to her that “If [she was] willing to be seen half-naked at [the]beach, don’t be afraid to let me see a little of you.”
After officials gathered all the evidence they needed, they arrested Hammock on a child pornography charge. If Hammock were to be convicted, the news source says he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison. He is also facing a potential life term of supervised release. The source says that authorities began their “crackdown” as a part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a “nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.”
It is incidents such as these that cause the gap between law enforcement and citizens to widen.
When police officers are charged with criminal offenses, especially one of such nature, it only makes the public wonder what else these officers might be doing wrong. Were they sexually harassing innocent individuals who had turned to them for help or coercing a suspect to engage in a sexual act in exchange for them being able to walk free? While a criminal charge isn’t an indication that an officer was also engaging in other acts of misconduct, it does serve as a sign that not all officers are as noble as they claim to be.
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