Source: Google News
Jared Brown / The News Tribune
The Tacoma Police Department fired a senior officer last year after he accidentally recorded a sexual interaction in his patrol car while on duty and then confessed he had used department resources to coordinate the extramarital affair.
The officer’s termination and the details of why were detailed in investigative and disciplinary records recently obtained by The News Tribune through a public disclosure request.
Jeffrey Robillard, a patrol specialist and officer since August 1995, was fired March 17, 2022, for violating department policy on unbecoming conduct during the encounter in a Tacoma Dome parking lot on the morning of Dec. 14, 2021. He told Internal Affairs investigators that he did the same thing about a week prior.
The department declined to comment on the case, citing personnel matters. Internal documents, however, were scathing.
“It is difficult to imagine a more brazen betrayal of the public’s trust than having sex in a marked patrol car, while on duty, in uniform, during daylight hours, in a public space,” Operations Bureau commander and assistant chief Ed Wade wrote in a memo admonishing Robillard and recommending Chief Avery Moore fire him.
Wade noted that Robillard brought the incident to Internal Affairs himself but concluded the officer had tarnished his credibility and couldn’t be trusted to have self-restraint. He called the incident “an embarrassment to every member of our Department.”
Moore followed Wade’s recommendation, finding lesser punishment inadequate. Previously, Robillard received a reprimand for a use-of-force violation on Aug. 4, 2021.
“I find the fact that you utilized your Department email account and cell phone over the last several months to coordinate your extramarital affair … disturbing,” Moore wrote. “While you eventually took responsibility for your actions, I do not believe you would have done so had the incident not been captured on your Body Worn Camera.”
The Tacoma Police Union, which represents officers, detectives and sergeants, did not respond to a request for comment.
Robillard started his final shift at 5 a.m. and responded to five calls for service — the last of them a single-car crash he was dispatched on from 6:13 a.m. until 7:14 a.m. near the state Route 7 interchange at East 38th Street.
After placing road flares along the ground and speaking to the driver, Robillard sat silently in his front seat for several minutes and switched off his camera, according to video footage summarized in investigative documents. Then, his cell phone records show he made two calls to the woman he was having an affair with for about 14 minutes.
Robillard told dispatchers a tow truck was on the way at 6:48 a.m., according to investigative records. About 20 minutes later, at 7:09 a.m., someone pressed “record” on his body-worn camera.
“Is that camera on?” a woman leaning over Robillard’s lap from the passenger seat asked about 30 seconds into the video.
Robillard said, “No,” then reached for his car’s dome light and deactivated his camera.
Investigators wrote there was no doubt about what the footage showed.
Robillard and the woman rewatched the video in his car before she left, according to investigative documents. He told her he’d figure out what to do about the video.
Tacoma police officers are prohibited from deleting body-worn camera footage and must file a written request within their chain of command for records managers to delete inadvertent recordings, according to department policy.
“Well, you might not hear from me for a while,” the woman recalled Robillard saying sometime after their encounter.
Robillard first called the sergeant overseeing body-worn camera administration but didn’t get through, according to investigative documents. Then he alerted union officials and called the woman, who didn’t pick up.
At about 10 a.m., Robillard and a union representative told Internal Affairs he’d had consensual sex on duty in his patrol car and that it was recorded on video. The officer immediately went on administrative leave without providing additional details.
In an interview with investigators, Robillard said he met the woman about 15 years earlier and they stayed in contact. Investigators found no other connections between the woman and Robillard or the Police Department.
Robillard’s department phone log showed he called the woman 45 times — 37 while on duty — during the three months preceding their encounter. He also had four recent emails from the woman, though Robillard permanently deleted about a year’s worth of messages from the summer of 2020 through the fall of 2021.
The woman told internal investigators she no longer had Robillard’s phone number because his wife caught them talking on the phone and forbade her husband from communicating with her, according to a transcript. Instead, they used messaging apps, and Robillard would call from a hidden number.
Sometimes she emailed his department account because his wife wouldn’t be able to see it, the woman said. Robillard told her not to because the emails would be a public record.
“We never had contact where I’ve done that to him,” the woman insisted in an interview. She added, “In his patrol car.”
Robillard told investigators they met under the “same arrangement” about a week earlier but couldn’t remember the date. He said the Tacoma Dome was on her way to work.
At the end of his 11-minute interview, investigators asked Robillard if he felt he’d violated department policy.
“I do,” he said.