A police officer was one of seven men who were caught in a sex-sting operation in Northern Virginia, which was initiated on June 6 and targeted those desiring sexual relations with juveniles.
The policeman in question is Christopher Dunkes, 27, of the Montgomery County Police Department, reports the Washington Post.
The sting involved a Craiglist ad in which an undercover officer pretended to be a 15-year-old girl.
Dunkes answered the ad, and subsequently emailed and texted with the undercover officer about sex acts. Ultimately, the officer posing as the underage girl agreed to meet Dunkes at a Target department store, where Dunkes was then arrested.
Dunkes was charged with three counts of using a communication device to facilitate offenses with juveniles. He was suspended without pay from his job.
“During this operation, undercover detectives used social media and an undisclosed online site where they posed as underage juveniles,” Prince William police said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.
The statement continues:
Male suspects contacted the undercover detectives and, during the course of communications, solicited sexual or indecent acts. These conversations involving the accused parties took place through electronic means. In each of the incidents, the suspect made arrangements to meet the undercover detective at a public location in Prince William County. Once there, detectives arrested the individual without incident.
The sting technique, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “A carefully planned operation, typically one involving deception,” was pioneered by criminals, but is also used by law enforcement agencies. In recent years, its use against sex crimes has gained national popularity with the success of the television series “To Catch a Predator.”
However, the method is not without controversy. “A number of well-conducted studies have shown that, contrary to expectations, sting operations may actually increase the targeted crime because they provide new opportunities to offenders to commit the crime,” explains the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a project of the University at Albany, New York.
“The police role is to reduce crime, not increase it. If sting operations are found to increase crime, they are surely very difficult to justify, regardless of the benefits.”