CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer is facing felony charges after police said he took inappropriate pictures of high school students during a police summer camp.
Detectives arrested Tom Allen Wednesday afternoon five months after they began investigating allegations that he'd taken the pictures during the summer program at the Police Academy.
"We're working these cases very aggressively," Chief Rodney Monroe said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Monroe said 11 detectives had been investigating the case since October when Allen said something to his supervisor at the academy that started the investigation.
Monroe said detectives searched thousands of photographs in Allen's computers and camera and found four of girls that Allen had allegedly taken while they were exercising during the summer camp, showing the girls' underwear.
"By virtue of them wearing loose-fitting clothes, he was able to zoom in," Monroe said, adding the victims did not even know that he had taken those pictures.
"He committed these offenses in the presence of other people. So it's not based on his being alone with anyone. It's based on his unlawful, sneaky ways and trying to capture these photographs," he said.
Monroe said detectives did not find any pictures showing the girls partially or completely undressed, and there is no evidence that he had touched any of them inappropriately.
Monroe said Allen had worked with as many as 700 students during that summer program and the department's Explorer program, and that detectives have interviewed about 180 of them.
He expects them to interview about 200 more before the investigation is over.
Allen didn't say anything to reporters as other officers led him to a patrol car Wednesday afternoon for the trip to jail.
Monroe said he will ask the Civil Service Board to fire Allen, and that his conduct is not tolerated.
"Allen's behavior is totally unacceptable. He violated the public's trust and needs to be and will be held accountable," Monroe said.
Channel 9 spoke to a former student of the Explorers. He said Allen was his mentor.
"He mentored a lot of the kids, he joked around with us. I looked up to him,” said Herve Omba.
Police are urging anyone in the public who may have additional information concerning these or any other incidents to call a phone line that was established specifically for this case. They may speak to lead detective Dunbar at 704-619-4931.