CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Chesterfield police officer was fired and arrested for soliciting a teenager for child pornography.
Chesterfield Police Chief Col. Jeffery Katz said that an officer overheard a rumor about the now-former officer, Brandon Hyde, potentially having an inappropriate relationship with a minor and brought it forth to management on Feb. 20.
During the internal investigation, Katz said they found that Hyde had an inappropriate relationship in 2019 with a 17-year-old girl he met prior to his employment with the police department.
Katz said that during Hyde’s tenure with Chesterfield police, Hyde sent an inappropriate photo at least once to the girl and asked for pictures from the girl in return.
“As a result, I fired Hyde on March 12, 2021, and promptly sent correspondence to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to seek revocation of his law enforcement certification,” Katz said.
Katz said Hyde was arrested on Tuesday, April 21, for solicitation of child pornography and using an electronic device for the exploitation of a child. He was taken into custody without incident.
During the investigation, Katz said “Hyde was completely forthright about his conduct during our investigation. He did not attempt to conceal or make excuses for his wrongdoing. Additionally, he forfeited the opportunity to appeal my termination of his employment and has expressed regret for his conduct. Now, he will be held to account for his behavior.”
Hyde was hired in 2017 and assigned to patrol. Officials said Hyde, a Chesterfield native, came to them with “impeccable references” after being honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps and later transitioning to be a sergeant in the Virginia National Guard.
Katz said that as a public institution, he believed the community had a right to know about the investigation and arrest.
“We are responsible and accountable to the community we serve, and you have a right to know of this development and how it was handled. Public institutions have an inherent obligation to root out misconduct, report it, make necessary adjustments, and carry on with their credibility intact. Public officials must be willing to endure short-term criticism in the interest of institutional credibility,” Katz said.
The situation finds experts sounding off with a wake-up call for all parents.
“I think we need to know, who is my child talking to? I’ve heard parents say should I look in their phone? Absolutely. Absolutely. Look in their phones the same way you would look into their rooms to see what’s going on in their rooms,” said Jacquelyn Smith-White, who is the prevention program manager for Henrico’s Mental Health and Developmental Services.
While she’s not familiar with the Chesterfield case, she frequently responds to situations where minors are exposed to trauma.
“A child taking pictures and exposing themselves, they don’t have the maturation to know that this is something that is illegal, harmful to their adult or adolescent reputation. It could impact them years down the road. They don’t have the brain maturity, the development to see how these decisions can impact them later down the road,” Smith-White said.
It’s why Smith-White says parents must take the lead in this new world where social media is everywhere.
“You want to be their first teacher...You can’t depend on other adults to give the same values and principles that you, as the parent, have. So you have to be that person to do that,” Smith-White said.
This arrest follows an ongoing investigation by the Chesterfield Police Department to find and arrest people suspected of soliciting minors. Katz said that over a 12-month investigation, a total of 38 people have been arrested.
The suspects in those cases ranged from 19 to 68 years of age. Among them were a popular cheerleading coach and choreographer, a school counselor and a physician’s assistant.
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