BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer email@example.com
A Bakersfield police officer was arrested Wednesday in connection with refusing to return a theft victim's property unless she gave him sexual favors, the department announced Thursday.
Officer Patrick Lefler was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, making annoying telephone calls and filing a false report, Bakersfield police reported. An officer with the BPD since August 2009, Lefler is on paid administrative leave.
Lefler could not be reached for comment.
Police Capt. Hajir Nuriddin said the department acts quickly to ensure public safety whenever an officer breaks the law.
"I think anytime you have a law enforcement officer that violates the law and engages in misconduct it has a tremendous impact on our organization and our community," she said.
Lefler, 27, worked in the patrol and operations division, Nuriddin said. She said she couldn't comment on the penalties he could face if convicted of one or more of the alleged offenses.
There are no other known victims at this time, but Nuriddin asked that anyone who has been subjected to inappropriate behavior from Lefler to call the department.
Kern County Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman said possession of stolen property and making a false report are "wobblers," meaning they can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Making annoying telephone calls is a misdemeanor.
The victim contacted the Kern County Sheriff's Department June 10 to report several items were stolen from her unlocked vehicle, officers reported. A deputy stopped a reported stolen vehicle July 7 and found the victim's property inside.
Police said Lefler responded to assist the deputy, and during the investigation seized the victim's property.
A criminal investigation began Tuesday after police received word that a BPD officer was refusing to return the victim's property, police reported. Investigators found Lefler had sent the victim several sexually suggestive text messages, and had told her he was holding on to her property because he wanted to meet in person and have sex with her, police said.
Investigators also discovered Lefler falsified his report of the incident by saying he had returned the property, according to police. He never returned the property, and didn't even book it into the department's property room until Monday, police said.
Nuriddin said the usual protocol is for an officer to either book recovered property or return it to the victim before the end of their shift.
The victim's driver's license still hasn't been found, even after investigators searched Lefler's residence and patrol vehicle, police reported.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective William Hughes at 326-3501 or Detective Rick Dossey at 326-3513.
To send an anonymous text message to the BPD, enter 274637 and text BPDCRIMES along with the message. Tips can also be sent anonymously through the smartphone "TipSubmit" mobile App or via email at https://www.tipsubmit.com.