A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who was a leader in the department’s programs for teens has been accused of taking photos that showed girls’ underclothes, police say.
Officer Thomas E. Allen was arrested Wednesday and charged with four counts of secretly using a photographic imaging device to view another’s body or undergarments and four counts of poessessing photographic images in violation of the peeping statute, police said. Investigators said the photos were of juvenile females.
Police said they have not found any evidence that Allen made physical contact with any participants in the CMPD youth programs but added that they have not been able to interview all those programs’ participants.
In a news release, CMPD said Allen has been cited for termination.
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Allen has been with CMPD since March 1996 and most recently was a recruiter at the Police Training Academy. But for several years, he was involved with the department’s Explorers program and the CMPD High School Academy. He also was the department’s organizer of the Explorers Christmas Project for several years.
Police said the charges followed an investigation which began last October. According to investigators, Allen photographed and kept four images of teen-age girls who were participating in High School Academy events in 2011 and 2013.
During an afternoon news conference, Chief Rodney Monroe said the High School Academy is a program for teens that allows them to simulate the experience of going through the Police Training Academy.
“The investigation revealed that Allen took photos through the victims’ clothing during physical training that captured portions of their undergarments without their consent,” police spokesman Rob Tufano said in a statement.
Monroe said, “If we think one of our officers goes against the public’s trust ... we will use whatever resources we have available.”
Tufano said CMPD has assigned 11 full-time detectives to the case. He said investigators have looked at several thousand photographs on Allen’s home and work computers and said detectives have checked for any indication of child pornography on the computers.
Police say the girls who were photographed were fully clothed at the time.
“To date, there has been no evidence of any child pornography on the computers examined,” Tufano said in the statement.
Police say Allen came in contact with about 700 youths during his time with CMPD. Detectives have identified 400 participants they want to interview and said they have been able to talk with 180 of them.
“We have all the rosters from all the programs he was involved with,” Monroe said.
While saying that those interviews have turned up no sign of “inappropriate contact,” Tufano added, “Detectives still have several hundred additional individuals they will interview.”
CMPD said it has set up a special phone line for the case and ask that anyone with information about Allen’s activities call detectives at 704-619-4931.