Collegedale police officer under investigation after sex allegation
(WRCB) - Collegedale Police are investigating one of their veteran supervisors, after hearing allegations that Chattanooga Police observed him, off-duty, having sex in a private car after midnight Sunday.
Corporal Matt Spears remains on duty while Collegedale's Internal Affairs officers conduct their investigation, according to Chief Brian Hickman.
"From what I have been told is that he (Spears) was at the Samaritan Center and supposedly inappropriate actions were being done there," Chief Hickman says.
Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd confirms that officers reported seeing Cpl. Spears' cruiser parked next to a sport utility vehicle in the parking lot of a strip shopping center at 9200 Lee Highway. Those officers, sources tell Eyewitness News, saw Spears and a woman having sex
"They (the officers) were kind of shocked it was going on," Chief Dodd says. "But they didn't feel it was their place to do anything."
The officers, Dodd says, were answering a call alleging that a woman was passed out drunk in a parked car full of children.
Subsequently, officers charged Kimberly Farris with child endangerment and driving under the influence. They placed the children in state custody.
Cpl. Spears has declined to go on camera, but Monday afternoon he told Eyewitness News that the reality is far different from what's been claimed.
"I was with my wife," Cpl. Spears said. "And I'd like to spare her any more embarrassment."
But it doesn't end there.
"We have decided to do an internal investigation to see if the allegations were correct," Chief Hickman says.
Internal Affairs investigators will gather statements from the Chattanooga officers, and proceed from there.
"I don't know how long it'll take," Chief Hickman says. "Maybe a week, maybe two. I'm surprised to hear something like this. He (Spears) has been a very good officer."
The Samaritan Center's manager also has expressed surprise at the allegations.
"I hate to hear anything going on that shouldn't be going on--on the property here," Samaritan Center manager Tony Dahlberg says.
Dahlberg often hears from Chattanooga Police late at night. The Center's back loading dock is a tempting target for thieves.
"In fact, we got a call early Sunday morning, saying they'd caught somebody," Dahlberg says. "They wanted to know if we wanted to press charges or not."
Dahlberg was able to confirm the theft by reviewing video from security cameras that monitor the back dock. The Samaritan Center has no cameras in its front parking lot.
Lee Highway is the dividing line between Collegedale and Chattanooga city limits. As such, Dahlberg says, the respective police departments have a cooperative relationship.
"Sometimes, we'll have need and Chattanooga Police can't get there right away," Dahlberg says. "There've been times when they'll call and Collegedale Police will detain them (the suspects)."
Collegedale Police have posted statements of Mission and Values on the department's webpage.
Among the goals, the department vows to "enforce the laws fairly and impartially with integrity and professionalism"...while "understanding that laws have a spirit as well as a letter, thus giving our officers latitude."
If source accounts are true, Chattanooga Police could have charged Cpl. Spears and his woman companion with indecent exposure, a misdemeanor under Tennessee law.
Chief Hickman says Cpl. Spears could face disciplinary action ranging from demotion to termination, depending on what the investigation concludes.