A California cop recently recognized for his leadership has been arrested for allegedly exchanging explicit messages with somebody he thought was a 16-year-old girl.
In reality, it was a male college student who used Snapchat’s gender-swapping filter to pose as an underage girl online in order to catch sexual predators.
The San Jose Police Department last week said that its Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force / Child Exploitation Detail (CED) had arrested Inspector Robert Edward Davies, a 40-year-old officer with the San Mateo Police Department.
Davies was arrested last week on suspicion of contacting a minor to commit a felony.
In an interview with NBC Bay Area on Tuesday, the student said he fears retaliation and thus only wanted to be identified by his first name, Ethan. He said that he was inspired to pose as an underage girl so as to catch sexual predators because of the history of a close friend who’d been molested as a child.
Ethan opened up a phony Tinder account for a 19-year-old named “Esther.” He knew that Tinder doesn’t allow minors to open accounts, so he then doctored the profile photo with a Snapchat filter to make himself look like a young girl.
Ethan allegedly began chatting with Davies on Tinder on 11 May 2019. Next, they picked up the conversation on Kik. It was at that point that Ethan told Davies that “she” was 16 – an admission that Davies acknowledged.
Davies then asked “Esther” to switch to Snapchat, where they also discussed her age and started to chat about hooking up.
NBC Bay Area quoted Ethan:
I believe he messaged me, ‘Are you down to have some fun tonight?’ and I decided to take advantage of it.
“Esther” asked if her age of 16 bothered Davies. Police say that screen captures show that it did not. After moving to a new chat app, it got more sexual, Ethan said:
We started texting on there, and it got a lot more explicit.
Are you down to get arrested tonight?
Ethan said that he and Davies texted back and forth for over 12 hours. He sent screen captures of their conversation to Crime Stoppers. Ethan said that he wasn’t out to catch a cop, per se. It’s just that as it happened, the first man to allegedly reach out to him was a cop:
I was just looking to get someone. He just happened to be a cop.
A statement released last week by San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer about Davies’ arrest:
This alleged conduct, if true, is in no way a reflection of all that we stand for as a Department, and is an affront to the tenets of our department and our profession as a whole. As San Mateo police officers, we have sworn an oath to serve and protect our communities. I can assure you that we remain steadfast to this commitment to serving our community with “Professionalism, Integrity, and Excellence.