A Missoula County sheriff's deputy has been fired for initiating sexually explicit conversations on the Internet and delaying his response to dispatchers' calls while logged on to MySpace.com.
Sgt. Ty Evenson created a MySpace account to improve "relations between law enforcement and the public," according to his online profile. Evenson's Web page says his online intention is to meet "people interested in assisting law enforcement in a confidential one-on-one basis."
However, an internal investigation shows Evenson used the social networking Web site in a way that compromised his official duties and violated Missoula County's electronic communications policy, officials said.
Evenson was fired Wednesday.
"Your documented pattern of activity more closely resembles that of a sexual predator than of a deputy sheriff dedicated to 'improved relations between law enforcement and the public,'" a letter of termination from Sheriff Mike McMeekin stated.
McMeekin said Evenson's alleged actions became fireable when Evenson lied to supervisors and tried to destroy evidence by deleting sent and received messages on his MySpace account.
"By his actions, he left us no choice but to terminate him," McMeekin said. "When an officer lies, it affects his testimony in a court of law."
Evenson said he disagrees with a majority of the department's allegations and denies lying to his supervisors. He said he intends to appeal his termination to county commissioners.
The investigation began after Undersheriff Mike Dominick received three complaints from women who said they were "disturbed" by Evenson's unorthodox online outreach tactics, and wondered if he really was employed by the sheriff's department. Dominick then installed a Web-monitoring program on Evenson's laptop and began tracking his Internet activity at work.
A three-week investigation revealed that Evenson's browsing criteria on MySpace.com were set to "swinger" and "women," and shows he initiated contact with hundreds of women across the country who identified themselves as strippers, prostitutes and porn stars. The messages were frequently sexually suggestive and "occasionally in very sexually explicit language," according to McMeekin's letter.
Nearly all of the activity took place while Evenson was on duty and using county-owned equipment, software and Internet access accounts.
Dominick said the Web-monitoring software showed Evenson sometimes trolled for profiles on MySpace.com for hours, citing one instance where the officer spent seven hours online.
Parked patrol car near WiFi hot spots
When investigators compared the online activity with 911 dispatch records, they found incidents where Evenson delayed responding to disturbance calls for up to 10 minutes while he remained logged on at MySpace.com.
"The MySpace.com activities became so consuming that, by your own admission to the disciplinary review board, you would park your patrol vehicle near a 'WiFi hot spot' because those Internet connections were much faster," McMeekin said in the termination letter.
Evenson has been disciplined for previous violations of department policy, including being charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct for slapping his 18-year-old daughter in public.
The inquiry also revealed that, after his daughter was ticketed for drunken driving, Evenson asked deputies to "make it go away," a favor that one former deputy carried out.