Flint Police Department shocked by officer’s arrest in child sex case
FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Flint Police Chief Terence Green said he and the entire Flint Police Department are in shock after the arrest of Officer Justin McLeod in a child sex investigation.
McLeod was in custody Wednesday at the Genesee County Jail, where he is awaiting formal charges. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson said his office is recommending several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against McLeod.
Investigators say he sexually abused a young girl for more than two years.
McLeod would’ve celebrated five years with the Flint Police Department in January and he’s been a K-9 officer since 2018. Green said McLeod has no disciplinary record with the department he called McLeod an “outstanding officer” who got along well with everyone.
“Unless we’ve been made aware of any misconduct while they’re off duty, we have no idea what’s going on in their own home unless someone reports it,” Green said. “So an incident like this, there’s no way we would ever have been made aware unless someone ever reported.”
Swanson said the allegations shouldn’t represent the conduct of all police officers.
“I mean, every every good cop out there is probably thinking why, like, why did you hide behind the uniform and a badge, because that’s not who we are,” he said. “But yet again, you disgraced the profession, once again, whether it’s race relations, whether it’s abusive behavior, whether it’s criminal sexual conduct, that’s not who cops are. We’re protectors, we’re guardians.”
He is grateful the young girl spoke up on Sunday, launching an investigation at a residence on McKinley Road in Flushing Township. Green said he heard from Swanson about the allegations against McLeod on Monday and began the process of having his employment terminated with the city of Flint.
“When I took this position, I made a pledge. Now I’ll be transparent. Any officer misconduct, that officer will be held accountable,” Green said. “When I was made aware of this incident, we immediately took action. We jumped ahead of it.”
He is not aware of any allegations that McLeod did anything illegal while responding to emergencies.
He said K-9 handlers like McLeod are considered leaders of the police department and they often are in public at community events. McLeod’s K-9 partner will remain with the police department and be reassigned to a new handler.
Green is worried about the impact McLeod’s arrest will have on the community’s trust of the Flint Police Department.
“We’re just trying to maintain and build the trust of the police department that police officers, we’re not above the law. No police officer’s above law, that’s including me,” Green said.
As he works to handle the fallout, Green said his focus is on the young victim who is believed to have dealt with the unthinkable over the last two years.
“That’s really what I’m taking to heart is that I hope she recovers. But my concerns are with her at this point,” he said.
Swanson said the girl, who is younger than 12 years old, is doing “surprisingly well” so far. They’re unsure of the long-term impact, but he said local partners are making sure she’s protected and able to work through this trauma.
The Voices for Children Advocacy Center in Flint has been working with the girl since Sunday night. Executive Director Nyse Holloman spoke to the team effort that she believes made this young girl feel comfortable to speak up after two years.
“Whoever you are to a kid in this community, you have to know that our law enforcement in Genesee County 100% stand behind kids,” she said. “We believe the kids when they say that something is happening, and we are going to fight for those kids, because in Genesee County, this cannot continue to happen.”
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