Trooper in trouble over Facebook photos

ISP Trooper Chris Pestow

Bob Segall/13 Investigates

Indianapolis - An Indiana State Trooper is under investigation for what some call compromising photos and statements he posted on the Internet.

Police say what 13 Investigates found on Trooper Chris Pestow's personal Facebook page is embarrassing and might even be against the law. Some of the entries showed Pestow with a .357 Magnum pointed at his head, drinking what he described as lots of beer with his buddies and lewd horseplay.

Over the past several months, Pestow has used his Facebook page to brag of heavy drinking. He also posted pictures of a crash involving his ISP cruiser.

"Oops! Where did my front end go?" he wrote when he posted the picture. Later, while discussing the accident with his friends on Facebook, Pestow added, "kiss my butt, Not my fault.:)"

And he isn't shy about sharing his views of police work, referring to himself as not a state trooper, but as a "garbage man." His Facebook page said, "I pick up trash for a living."

Pestow also weighed in on the issue of people who resist arrest and threaten police officers. Referring to an incident in California in which Fresno Police officers punched a homeless man during his arrest, Pestow wrote: "Let someone, homeless or not, try and stab me with a pen, knife, spoon, etc, not only will he fail, he'll probably end up shot. These people should have died when they were young anyway, i'm just doing them a favor." [sic]

Eyewitness News interviewed Pestow in December 2008 while he was responding to traffic accidents on an icy stretch of I-465. He wasn't happy about the icy conditions, and we know that because after the interview, at 5:42 a.m., his Facebook page has this entry: "Chris Pestow is very mad @ whoever is responsible for this awful weather."

Now, the Indiana State Police may be very mad at him.

"There has been an internal investigation started," said ISP Major Carlos Pettiford, adding that investigators are trying to determine if the photos and information posted on Pestow's Facebook page violate department rules.

Pettiford says the state's biggest concern is that Trooper Pestow may have been Facebook-ing while you were paying for it.

ISP records show Pestow was on duty during the early morning hours of February 11. That day at 2 a.m., an entry on his Facebook page reads "Chris Pestow is NOT working in the rain."

On February 19, while state records indicate Pestow was working his overnight shift, the Trooper's Facebook site shows this entry at 3:22 a.m.: "It's cold AND snowing?!?! I can't possibly work in these conditions."

And on November 28 at 1:20 a.m., ISP says Pestow was supposed to be on duty at the same time he apparently wrote, "Chris Pestow is keeping the mean streets of Fishers safe and free of trash."

A friend quickly responded to that post.

"Hmmmm. how are u keeping the streets safe ... if u r on facebook? :)," the friend wrote.

ISP is wondering the same thing.

"That's a clear violation. We know that right off the bat," said Major Pettiford. "When they're working, that's exactly what they're supposed to be doing is working, not playing or writing on the internet unless it's for department business."

Pestow isn't the only one who is now facing possible punishment.

The man holding the gun to his head in one of the photos is also a police officer. Andrew Deddish works for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and officials there are not happy with the picture.

"We're trained [that] we don't point firearms at anything we don't plan to shoot," said IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson.

Thompson said Deddish is now facing an internal investigation, because pointing a gun at someone is against state law and because he says a police officer should know better.

"It's embarrassing. We're always under public scrutiny. We hold a position that's a trust to the public. You're expected to act accordingly," Thompson said.

So what were the officers thinking by posing for the picture and later posting it on the internet?
"They weren't thinking," said Thompson. "It was an error in judgment ... so now there has to be accountability and that's what we're going to do."

13 Investigates tried to reach Chris Pestow through his family and friends, but the state Trooper has not responded to WTHR's request for an interview.

Pettiford said ISP contacted Pestow Monday - the same day WTHR contacted ISP to ask about the photos and information posted on the Facebook page -- to inform the state officer he was the focus of an internal investigation. Pestow did remove his Facebook page from the Internet that same afternoon, but not before 13 Investigates, State Police and IMPD had a very good look at it.

ISP is currently in the process of drafting a Standard Operating Procedure for all department staff regarding posting information on personal web pages such as Facebook.

"These are new times," Pettiford said. "We didn't have Facebook when I got into law enforcement, but nowadays it's out there so we're putting together a policy."

Officials told Eyewitness News both Pestow and Deddish will remain on paid duty while their departments conduct the internal investigations, which will probably take several weeks.

Police say this situation should provide a powerful reminder to all of us: don't post anything on the Internet that you would not want to see on the news.