An ex-Anchorage police officer convicted Tuesday of sexually assaulting five women in 2008 and 2009 was earlier investigated on suspicion he was having sex on the job, the police chief said Wednesday.
In that earlier investigation, Internal Affairs detectives in the police department had received a tip that Officer Anthony Rollins was engaging in sexual activity while in uniform on the job, said Police Chief Mark Mew. Investigators went so far as to put a tracking device on Rollins' patrol car in August 2008.
While investigators found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Rollins "was punished severely," Mew said at a press conference Wednesday at City Hall with Mayor Dan Sullivan.
The criminal case that resulted in Rollins' trial this month started the next year, after a young woman told police that Rollins forced her to perform oral sex on April 15, 2009. The department, then under Chief Rob Heun, suspended Rollins the next day. He was fired sometime later.
Detectives found five more victims after that initial report. Rollins testified during the 12-day trial that three of the women consented to the sexual activity and that he did not have sexual contact with the other three.
Rollins, 43, now faces a sentence ranging from 51 to 208 years behind bars.
A state Superior Court jury convicted Rollins Tuesday on 18 out of 20 criminal counts, including first- and second-degree sexual assault, official misconduct and illegal use of a computer related to five victims. He was acquitted on one count of second- degree sexual assault and one count of official misconduct for a sixth alleged victim.
OFFICERS HAVING SEX
Rollins was an anomaly in the department, which now must begin rebuilding the public trust damaged by Rollins' actions, Chief Mew said.
"The good news about the APD is we do something about it," Mew said. "A good and honest department is one that investigates itself."
Like Rollins, other police employees have been caught in the past having sex on duty, Mew said, but unlike Rollins, none of them were found to have committed crimes, he said.
"The few who didn't lose their jobs outright were punished severely," Mew said.
Citing confidential personnel matters, Mew would not say what punishment Rollins received for the non-criminal sex he had on duty. Short of being fired, a police employee caught engaging in such behavior could get a 30-day unpaid suspension as punishment, Mew said.
How did Rollins make it through the department's screening process? a reporter asked.
"I'm not a psychologist, but I think he shows the classic signs of a sociopathic personality," Mew said. "Those people can lie without feeling internal stress. Those people can sometimes slip through the screening processes that would trip up me and you and 99 percent of the people out there."
POLICY CHANGES COMING
Police department managers are looking at changes to policies and equipment to prevent any future sexual abuse by police officers, Mew said.
That includes making what Mew referred to as "quality assurance calls," where people are contacted regarding their experience with police. Some of those calls are for random incidents, and others are related to ongoing Internal Affairs investigations, he said.
Mew said a decision is pending about putting video cameras inside police substations, where Rollins assaulted five women, and inside patrol cars.
Increased supervision is also in effect now during overtime shifts, and there are promotions open at the sergeant level for more supervision of officers overall, Mew said.
DETECTIVE MAY BE REASSIGNED
In a strange twist, though, the lead investigator on the Rollins case and the head of the department's Special Victims Unit -- Sgt. Ken McCoy -- could lose his assignment as a detective.
Budget tightening at the police department is expected to cause the reassignment of eight to 10 detectives from their assigned beats to regular patrol duty.
McCoy oversaw several detectives as they went after the victims' testimony that ultimately convicted Rollins, one of their own. McCoy also sat next to prosecutors Brittany Dunlop and Sharon Marshall in court each day of the trial.
McCoy is one of the detectives who might go to patrol because of seniority issues, Mew said.
"It's regrettable," Mew said. "I'd like to say it's not about Ken McCoy, it's about making adjustments within the department."
Mayor Sullivan blamed police union rules about seniority.
The Mayor's Office and the Anchorage Police Department Employees' Association were set to talk about ways to bridge what the administration has referred to as a budget gap.
Those talks have been either slow or ineffective, according to union reps.
The unions don't have to give concessions to their labor agreements, signed under then-Mayor Mark Begich, Sullivan said Wednesday.
"They got their five-year deal," Sullivan said.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.