Former APD officer charged with meth trafficking
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A Flomaton police officer who started his law enforcement career with Atmore Police Department was arrested Monday, December 7, in Escambia County, Fla. after a multi-agency investigation into methamphetamine trafficking.
Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff Heath Jackson said Lopez was taken into custody in Escambia County, Fla. around noon after investigators determined that the city policeman had secured “a trafficking amount of methamphetamine” and “had planned to return to Escambia County, Ala. and distribute it.”
Lopez, who resides in Jay, Fla., will face the trafficking charges in his home state, where he is being held without bond, but will be charged here with one count of using his official position for personal gain, a Class B felony. That charge stems from Lopez using his city-issued cellular telephone to help facilitate the criminal activity.
Jackson said FPD Chief Charles Thompson was part of the investigative team, which also included agents and officers of the Escambia County, Fla.’s SWAT team and narcotics unit, the Santa Rosa County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Flomaton has a great police chief, and this shouldn’t be a reflection on him or his department,” the sheriff said. “Dealing with something like this, I could see the pain in his eyes. But he stood behind (the investigation) and helped make it happen, and I respect that.”
Jackson said the “old way,” which usually entailed a corrupt officer being quietly fired and eventually finding employment with another agency, is gone.
“There has to be accountability,” he said. “As long as I am sheriff, we will not have that. We won’t have a rogue officer just move to another agency. In my 21 years in law enforcement I have watched some good people do stupid things. I don’t know where these people got the idea, they could break the law while enforcing the law. There’s no gray area; you’ve got to pick a side.”
He said actions such as those of Lopez are one of the reasons respect for law enforcement officers has decreased.
“This type of thing ruins our profession,” he said. “It makes law enforcement look bad. I’m tired of it and I want these people gone.”
According to Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks, Lopez worked with APD “maybe six months” after Brooks became chief five years ago, then left to work for another agency.
Other than that, he did not wish to discuss the former officer’s fall from grace.
“I’d rather not say anything about it,” Brooks said. “It is what it is.”