A former Tempe police officer who resigned in March 2006 had thrown away evidence, failed to write a child molestation report and left more than 100 items of property, evidence and documents sitting in his locker, according to an internal affairs report.
Forrest Bunch was decertified on Feb. 21 by the state agency that certifies police to work in the state. He will no longer be allowed to work as an officer in Arizona.
According to the internal affairs report, Bunch did not write a police report after he was called to a residence where a man touched a boy’s genitals and fled. The suspect left his shoes at the house by mistake, and instead of processing them as evidence, Bunch threw them away.
He then lied about the incident to a supervisor, the report shows.
“Clearly, in this situation our customers deserved better than what they got, but we as an agency dealt with this problem,” Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Mike Horn said. “This is something we’re not going to tolerate. We expect better from our officers.”
Former officer Doug Bacon, who responded to the scene with Bunch, was also fired for his conduct during the investigation and for dishonesty.
While Bacon had no history of committing similar violations, Bunch already had been suspended for not completing reports and had been issued eight reprimands for reasons including failure to turn over property, comply with an order, and investigate and submit work.
“I want to start by saying I know I have made some really bad decisions in the past few months with my work ethics,” Bunch said in response to his department’s inquiry. “I never intentionally meant to deceive or mislead anyone in any of my actions.”
Bunch said he tried to make “Tempe a better place,” but his “personal problems” prevented him from doing so.
In his equipment locker, police found an Arizona driver’s license, an arrest warrant, license plates and other documents and items. Police determined which case each item corresponded with, placing it with its appropriate file.
The molestation case was turned over to another detective, who investigated the incident thoroughly, Horn said. However, the case was never prosecuted. Police said they discovered that Bunch and Bacon had failed to document the molestation case when another officer was called to the same house months later, because the victim’s family member thought she had spotted the suspect.
The responding officer realized no report had ever been taken, and he told a supervisor about it.
Horn said the officer was relatively new and made the right decision to “step up to the plate” and report his fellow officers.
“He recognized decisions his own peers did that were bad,” he said.